Mock Turtles, Cups and Saucers, The Carp: these intriguing titles must have caught the eye of anyone exploring the annals of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in the nineteenth century. Short companion pieces to the main works of the evening, they were usually played beforehand—rather as ‘shorts’ came to be in the cinema. In one act, about half an hour long, using a handful of principals and without chorus: beyond such playbill information virtually nothing is generally known about these miniature musical pieces, mostly written by largely forgotten composers and librettists and cast, in the main, from the company’s understudies. This outstanding new volume of Musica Britannica brings two representative examples of the genre out of the shadows. Prepared by Christopher O’Brien, a foremost authority on such pieces, the volume presents edited full scores and...

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