The 20th century is littered with the remains of British operas that failed to stand the test of time.  Some were reasonably successful in their day, some were overly advanced and thus misunderstood, and many of course were just plain flawed. Once upon a time, the BBC had both the enthusiasm and the resources to make decent studio recordings of some of them, and this 23 October 1983 broadcast of Lennox Berkeley’s splendid three-act opera Nelson is a perfect example of why the corporation needs to open up its archives to commercial record companies. In fact, these CDs derive from Lyrita boss Richard Itter’s home recordings, though the BBC is keen to stamp its brand all over them.

Nelson

Back in the 1950s, Berkeley was briefly considered to be a leading composer of opera with Nelson (1951), A Dinner Engagement (1954) and Ruth (1955–6) following in quick succession. Sadly, he’d only write two more, the last incomplete at the time...