Michael William Balfe was an Irish composer, best-remembered for his opera The Bohemian Girl. After a short career as a violinist, Balfe pursued an operatic singing career, while he began to compose. In a career spanning more than 40 years, he composed 28 operas, more than 250 songs and other works. From 1829 to 1870 Balfe among other conducting posts was appointed musical director and principal conductor for the Italian Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. There he first produced several of Verdi's operas for London audiences. He conducted for Jenny Lind at her opera debut and on many occasions thereafter. Balfe was born in Dublin, where his musical gifts became apparent at an early age. Balfe retired in 1864 to Hertfordshire, where he leased a country estate. He died at his home in 1870, aged 62, and was buried at Kensal Green. In 1882 a medallion portrait of him was unveiled in Westminster Abbey. Pianist and world acclaimed opera conductor Richard Bonynge has been for many years an avid collector of songs and ballads from the Nineteenth century. Together with soprano Sally Silver he has realised his ambition to record some of his collection with this CD of songs and ballads by Michael William Balfe. Richard and Sally have recently recorded songs by William Vincent Wallace another Irish composer who made his name as an opera composer in London, Vienna and Australia.
“[Silver's] charming soprano falls...comfortably on the ear...Charm is very much the order of the day here, and is displayed no less admirably in Richard Bonynge's devoted piano accompaniment.”
“I cannot recall a collection of songs by Balfe that is more extensive than this one...[Bonynge's] piano accompaniment is often far more intricate and varied than the vocal line.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.