A little night music

Zips along with enormous vim: Malcolm Arnold’s The Dancing Master reviewed

Malcolm Arnold composed his opera The Dancing Master in 1952 for BBC television. It never appeared, the problem being the source material — William Wycherley’s 1671 farce The Gentleman Dancing Master. Jokes about wedding nights and ‘scarlet foppery’ might have flown in the reign of Charles II but the New Elizabethans at Broadcasting House were altogether more shockable. ‘Too bawdy for family audiences,’ was Auntie’s official verdict, leaving The Dancing Master largely forgotten until a premiere recording late last year, and now — conducted by John Andrews and using almost the same cast — its first ever professional production, at the Buxton International Festival. Clearly, there are historic debts to