A highly regarded English operatic society, led by one of the world’s most respected conductors, is close to producing a major recording of one of William Vincent Wallace’s most famous operas, ‘Lureline’, which hasn’t been heard in all its glory since a major production at Covent Garden, London, in 1860.

The British Victorian Opera Northwest, based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, specialises in making quality recordings of rare and sometimes forgotten operas. In 2005, the company recorded Balfe’s ‘The Maid of Artois’ to great critical acclaim and they now want to repeat the exercise with the Waterford born composer’s rarely heard masterpiece that is based on the famous Lorelei legend.

The celebrated conductor, Richard Bonynge, has agreed to reconstruct the original score from Wallace’s manuscript and he has already provisionally engaged top international soloists to perform with the Victorian Opera chorus and orchestra. Maestro Bonynge has conducted many of the world’s top singers including his own wife, Joan Sutherland, and the late Luciano Pavarotti.

Willian Vincent Wallace is, perhaps, best known in this country for his opera ‘Maritana’ with its strong melodies and haunting orchestration. But he composed much, much more and Waterford academic and Wallace specialist, David Grant, described the project as a ‘unique opportunity to reinstate Wallace as, perhaps, the greatest operatic composer out of Ireland in the 19th century’.

“Maestro Bonynge is regarded the world over as the greatest conductor of 19th century music and he has assembled a dream cast of international names to perform the opera. It is an opportunity not to be missed”, he said.

Since 2001, Mr Grant has been working on a Ph D project with the Open University of London to produce a new edition of ‘Maritana’ from the original sources and he is also assembling material for a new biography of the composer.

But, for the lack of a relatively small amount of money, the ‘Lureline’ recording is in danger of being shelved. It will cost an estimated €50,000 to record the opera and Victorian Opera Northwest has raised approximately €40,000 so there is a deficit of about €10,000.

Consequently, the Friends of Wallace in Ireland are appealing for donations, especially from the Waterford area, in order that the project can proceed. A decision, one way or the other, will have to be made within weeks as options on the singers and musicians required will have to be confirmed or released as their engagements are booked many months and sometimes years in advance.

Any person who wishes to contribute to the fund can do so by contacting the former Waterford City Manager, Michael Doody, or the writer and biographer of Wallace, Robert Phelan, at 051-873125; Luke Baxter on 086-3344878; or the Chairman of Victorian Opera Northwest, Raymond Walker, on 0044 1625 530030.