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'Bawdy' Arnold opera to receive belated world premiere

30 August 2012, Northampton, UK

Malcolm Arnold in 1958
Malcolm Arnold in 1958

A comic opera by the British composer Sir Malcolm Arnold is to receive its world premiere in his hometown of Northampton during this year’s Malcolm Arnold Festival.

A satire on 17th-century manners inspired by William Wycherley’s Restoration play The Dancing Master, Arnold’s libretto started life as a film script by his friend Joe Mendoza. They went on to create the 75-minute score together in 1951, shortly after the success of Arnold’s orchestral suite English Dances.

‘When the pair took the work to the BBC, it was turned down as being too bawdy for family audiences,’ explains Malcolm Arnold Festival director, Paul Harris. ‘They then took it to Granada where Malcolm performed it on the piano as well as singing all the parts. Granada turned it down for not being serious enough.’

The semi-staged world premiere of The Dancing Master will take place in Northampton on 20 October, including an introductory talk by Royal Academy of Music lecturer, Dr Timothy Bowers.

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