The Dancing Masteris a one-act comic opera, composed in 1952 but not performed until six decades later. Film director Joe Mendoza adapted a 1671 Restoration comedy by William Wycherley ( The Gentleman Dancing Master) and sent his libretto to Malcolm Arnold as a possible BBC commission. Arnold had previously worked with Mendoza on film projects and was enjoying a spectacularly productive and successful period. (The work was contemporary with his English Dancesand First Symphony.) The BBC rejected the piece as too bawdy, although its mild sexual references are nothing today.

It is written in a parlando style with few mini-arias, not unlike Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnoland Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, although its story of the lovesick daughter trying to outwit her guardian...