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Extract from 'A Quaker Singer's Recollections' by David Bispham
[David Bispham was the original Benedick in the 1901 premiere production of Stanford's 'Much Ado About Nothing' at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden]
"I went to London for the season of 1901 at Covent Garden, entering immediately upon rehearsals of Villiers Stanford's new opera in four acts founded upon Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," the admirable libretto in English made by Julian Sturgis.
This really fine work was rehearsed and played with great enthusiasm by those of us who sang and had been written with equal gusto; as Stanford told me in his delightful Irish way, " It ran right out of the end of my pen."
But the London Press would have none of it, though they had heralded it in glowing terms, and were so disappointed in the outcome that they said they had made "much ado about nothing."
To my mind this judgment was entirely unwarranted. The work is beautiful and will well repay study by those interested in opera in English.
Marie Brema was enchanting as Beatrice, I was Benedick, the English tenor John Coates was Claudio, Robert Blass made an amusing Dogberry, Suzanne Adams was lovely as Hero, Plangon superb as the Friar, and the part of Leonato was assigned to the gifted American basso, Putnam Griswold, who ere long joined the great majority, to the infinite regret of his friends and of the public ..."
David Bispham as Alberich from Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle