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Fantasia on The Lily of Killarney
£9.00 – £12.00
The English Ring consists of three operas.
The Bohemian Girl – Michael William Balfe. 1808-1870 First performed in Drury Lane Theatre Royal London in 1843
Maritana – William Vincent Wallace. 1812-1865 First performed in Drury Lane Theatre Royal, London in 1845.
The Lily of Killarney – Julius Benedict. 1804-1885 First performed at Covent Garden Theatre, London in 1862
While on a concert tour for South West Arts with my London-based Cosmos Wind Quintet, and performing in Barnstaple in the mid 1970’s, I discovered on a market stall, a copy each of a Fantasia on The Bohemian Girl and Maritana, arranged by Charles le Thière for clarinet and piano. I was thrilled to find these two works in this arrangement as I already knew of them in their opera format. However, it was not until I was later working with Opera North, and my wife, mezzo-soprano Valerie Baulard, formed a Soiree Musicale group from within the company, to perform popular Victorian Soiree Musicale evening concerts, that I actually performed them. Four singers, a pianist and myself on clarinet – alias guest artiste, Henry Lazarus, (first clarinet tutor at the newly-opened Royal College of Music in 1883 having been a tutor at the Royal Academy of Music from 1854), and also on piano in the quadrille duets! I so enjoyed performing these works as they readily displayed the melodic tone and technical prowess of the clarinet, and an extension to the clarinet repertoire, hitherto, unknown to me. On discovering that these two operas formed a part of the then known, The English Ring – later known as The Irish Ring because of the Irish connections between all three operas and composers – I decided to research into whether there had been a further Fantasia on The Lily of Killarney, to complete The Ring, only to discover that this was not the case. Boosey and Hawkes who had no information on all three works or the publication under Hawkes and Co., clearly made my copies to be rare! It therefore seemed appropriate to embark on making my own arrangement. My wife already had a copy of the opera vocal score, so I worked through the entire opera for suitable and memorable arias and cadenzas in order to create a Fantasia in the same style as Charles le Thière. This was some twenty years ago! However, when the Corona virus lockdown happened in 2020, I decided this was the moment to complete the arrangement, by adding the accompaniment and transposing the arias into more appropriate keys for the Bb clarinet and writing bridge passages from the score in order to create a harmonic flow between arias. I am delighted that Forton Music has accepted my arrangement, and recognised that all three Fantasias are worthy of publication and performance. I hope that you will enjoy performing them. Howard Rogerson