The Orientalist in Arthur Sullivan´s The Rose of Persia
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A comedic opera of two acts, The Rose of Persia stands as the final opera completed by the English composer Arthur Sullivan. After departing from his comedic roots for several productions, Sullivan cultivated an opera consisting of exoticism influences within its constructed environment and plot elements. Though irregularly revived today, The Rose of Persia exploits Arthur Sullivan as a consistently successful composer; demonstrates the influence of ethnic groups from the late 19th century within this particular musical; directly draws parallels to Middle Eastern cultures, and sufficiently implies similarities and differences to comparable earlier works, of which also include depictions of Exoticism and Orientalism.
On June 24, 1842, Arthur Sullivan was born in South London. At an early age, Sullivan’s musicality was easily recognizable, which his father immensely supported, as he was a band conductor. For if it wasn’t for his father’s support and occupation, it’s possible that Sullivan’s introduction to music would not have occurred as early as it did. According to Sullivan, he was “intensely interested in all that the band did” and he “learned to play every wind instrument” (Young 5). With his burgeoning interest in music, Sullivan continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music until 1858, only to later attend the Conservatory in Leipzig. Over various years, Sullivan fulfilled his passion devoted to music by conducting, until his partnership with librettist W.S. Gilbert began in 1871. Gilbert and Sullivan produced several projects together, including Ruddigore, Yeomen of the Guard, and The Gondoliers, formulating a notable working relationship (Young 5). Following an argument over expenses, a feud burgeoned, and the partnership concluded. With this new platform vacant of Gilbert’s presence, Sullivan transitioned into composing without Gilbert’s assistance (Young 5). Throughout the remainder of his career, Sullivan worked with other librettists, continuing to mostly compose comic operas, such as The Rose of Persia.
Composed by Arthur Sullivan, The Rose of Persia was created in 1899, only to later initiate its début performance in the same year. The Rose of Persia premièred on November 29, 1899 in London at the Savoy Theatre ("The Rose of Persia (work by Sullivan)"). The Romantic piece featured two acts and the instrumentation of vocal soloists, a chorus, and an orchestra. After its première, the opera intensely toured in America and throughout the English-speaking world, achieving a run of 220 performances (Citation Needed). While Sullivan served as the two-act comedic opera’s composer, Basil Hood was The Rose of Persia’s librettist ("Sir Arthur Sullivan (British Composer)").