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CHAN 9781
(multiple CD Set)
Opera - Paul Bunyan

Britten: Paul Bunyan

The Classical Shop
release date: November 1999

Recorded in 24 Bit / 44.1Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 1999


Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Richard Hickox

Graeme Broadbent

baritone - Ben Benny

Peter Coleman-Wright

baritone - Narrator

Jeremy White

bass - Hel Helson

Roderick Earle

bass - John Shears

Pamela Helen Stephen

mezzo-soprano - Moppet

Kurt Streit

mezzo-soprano - Poppet

Lillian Watson

soprano - Fido

Susan Gritton

soprano - Tiny

Kenneth Cranham

speaker - The Voice of John Bunyan

Kenneth Cranham

tenor - Hot Biscuit Slim

Kurt Streit

tenor - Johnny Inkslinger

Francis Egerton

tenor - Sam Sharkey

Royal Opera Chorus


Sadlers Wells Theatre, London


Ralph Couzens

Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko



Ralph Couzens

Richard Smoker


Record Label



Total Time - 110:30
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Opera - Paul Bunyan

An operetta in two acts and a prologue, Op. 17
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Paul Bunyan

  Libretto by W.H. Auden  
  Thee Royal Opera Production  
  Directed for the stage by Francesca Zambello  
  Recorded 'live' during performances at Sadler's Wells Theatre  
1 1 Introduction 1:09
2 2 Prologue 11:03
3 2A First Ballad Interlude 2:45
  Act I  
  Scene 1  
4 3 Bunyan's Greeting 2:25
5 3A Call of Lumberjacks 0:16
6 4 Lumberjacks' Chorus 2:07
7 4A Bunyan's Welcome 0:25
8 5 Quartet of Swedes 1:20
9 6 Western Union Boy's Song 1:36
10 7 Cooks' Duet 3:39
11 8 Animal Trio 1:36
12 8A Bunyan's Goodnight 0:21
13 8B Exit of Lumberjacks 0:54
14 9 The Blues - Quartet of the Defeated 4:26
15 10 Bunyan's Goodnight (ii) 0:37
16 10A Second Ballad Interlude 4:19
  Scene 2  
17 11 Food Chorus 4:29
18 12 Chorus Accusation 0:38
19 12A Slim's Song 2:51
20 13 Bunyan's Return 0:47
21 14 Inkslinger's Song 4:59
22 14A Entrance of Chorus 0:32
23 15 Tiny's Entrance 1:13
24 15A Tiny's Song 4:39
25 16 Inkslinger's Regret 2:12
26 17 Bunyan's Goodnight (iii) 2:10
  Act II  
  Scene 1  
27 18 Bunyan's Good Morning 2:56
28 18A Shears's Song 0:44
29 18B Bunyan's Warning 0:23
30 19 Farmers' Song 1:54
31 19A Farmers' Exit 1:06
32 20 The Mocking of Hel Helson 4:53
33 21 Fido's Sympathy 0:36
34 22 Cats' Creed 1:32
35 23 The Fight 1:16
36 Love Duet 2:27
37 Mock Funeral March 4:24
38 Hymn 3:15
39 24 Third Ballad Interlude 2:18
  Scene 2  
40 25 The Christmas Party 9:58
41 26 Bunyan's Farewell 2:15
42 27 Litany 7:05
 Peter Coleman-Wright baritone - Narrator
 Kenneth Cranham speaker - The Voice of John Bunyan
 Kurt Streit tenor - Johnny Inkslinger
 Susan Gritton soprano - Tiny
 Kenneth Cranham tenor - Hot Biscuit Slim
 Francis Egerton tenor - Sam Sharkey
 Graeme Broadbent baritone - Ben Benny
 Jeremy White bass - Hel Helson
 Roderick Earle bass - John Shears
 Lillian Watson soprano - Fido
 Pamela Helen Stephen mezzo-soprano - Moppet
 Kurt Streit mezzo-soprano - Poppet
 Richard Hickox
  23, 24 and 28 April 1999  
Following the phenomenal success of the recent production at Sadler’s Wells, Richard Hickox conducts Britten’s much-loved opera Paul Bunyan

Recorded live at the Sadler’s Wells performances, this recording of Britten’s richly lyrical opera is the only one currently available.

The cast assembled for this production/recording is as close to perfect as one could imagine; a wealth of wonderful soloists accompanied by the superior forces of the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, all under the expert baton of Richard Hickox.

Richard Hickox is a seasoned Britten performer. His previous recordings on Chandos have been tremendously successful, as shown by a Gramophone Award for the War Requiem and a Grammy for Peter Grimes.

In many respects Britten’s Paul Bunyan, with a libretto by W.H. Auden, represents the quintessentially ‘American’ work of the composer’s North American years (1939-1942). But to legions of post-war admirers it remained an unknown quantity consigned to the composer’s bottom drawer following withdrawal after the flawed premiere in New York in May 1941. Revision to the work in 1975 led to its first performance in 1976. Paul Bunyan stands as one of the most lyrical of Britten’s scores, its melodic richness undoubtedly deriving from its conception as a high school operetta and from an aborted plan to stage the first performances on Broadway. A Broadway premiere also encouraged the composer and librettist to align the work with the tradition of profound seriousness which lay at the heart of the American musical of the 1930s and early 1940s – a tradition which allowed the nation not only to be a subject for celebration, but also for scepticism and criticism. The most recognisably ‘American’ influence on Britten’s music is perhaps to be found in the Ballad interludes, sung by the Narrator to a country-and-western style guitar accompaniment. Some of Britten’s musical techniques are prophetic of things to come later in his career. The assured handling of orchestral textures and the tailoring of solo vocal writing are features to be found in Britten’s stage works from Paul Bunyan onwards, while in the choral writing the composer of Peter Grimes, Billy Budd and Gloriana can be found.

Hickox brings out a remarkable clarity from orchestra and singers in this enchanting performance.
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