Alexander Faris

Alexander Faris (m.d., 1981-82)

[Born Caledon, Northern Ireland 11 Jun 1921]

Alexander Faris has had an association with the Gilbert & Sullivan operas going back to 1962 when he conducted The Mikado and Iolanthe with Sadler's Wells Opera, and made recordings of excerpts of The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and The Gondoliers with the Linden Singers and Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra. He only joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as its musical director for the last, abbreviated, season--from September 1981 to February 1982, and conducted the orchestra for much of the famous "D'Oyly Carte Last Night" at the Adelphi, February 27, 1982.

In 1982 and 1983 Faris conducted the eleven Gilbert & Sullivan operas from Trial by Jury to The Gondoliers, plus Cox and Box, for the Brent Walker video series, and in 1986 he conducted ten Sullivan overtures with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Glasgow (Nimbus CD, NI 5066).

Faris made his London debut as a conductor in a July-September 1949 revival of Song of Norway at the Palace Theatre. He would direct orchestras for the Carl Rosa Opera Company, Sadler's Wells Opera, and the Royal Ballet, and conducted the original London cast recordings of Summer Song (1956), Irma la Douce (1958), Robert and Elizabeth (1964), The Great Waltz (1970), Bordello (1974), Bar Mitzvah Boy (1978), and Flowers for Algernon (1979).

As a composer, he wrote film scores for The Quare Fellow (1962), Georgy Girl (1966), and He Who Rides the Tiger (1966), as well as the music for the television series Upstairs, Downstairs, Wings, and The Duchess of Duke Street. His original compositions included the orchestral Sketches of Regency England and the musical R Loves J (Chichester Festival, 1973).

In 1980 Faris wrote the biography "Jacques Offenbach" (Faber & Faber, London, and Scribner's, New York).

Page modified November 27, 2013 © 2002-13 David Stone