An opera baritone pitches into sea shanties

An opera baritone pitches into sea shanties


norman lebrecht

March 03, 2021

Berlin baritone Jake Muffett has recorded the Four Salt-Water Ballads by Frederick Keel, a rare addition to the shanty repertoire.

But shanties are going viral these days.

Jake says: I purchased a copy of this music over a year ago from a charity shop in Croydon and only very recently realised it was dated 1920 and signed by the composer himself!! A picture of this can be seen on the title page of the video, totally genuine!

This copy was also named by the original owner and I have to thank Christopher Ball for recognising the name to be Topliss Green. Topliss Green was a well known British bass baritone who was primarily active in the 1920’s and 30’s. There are various video recordings of him singing on Youtube, very interesting!


  • RW2013 says:

    Looks like the Düsseldorf upstairs foyer.
    And thanks.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    He has hauled Keel back into the limelight!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Jake Muffett in stalwart voice continues a tradition of other fgreat baritones Leonard Warren in sea shanties with the Robert Shaw Chorale, John Brownlee and Beecham in Delius-Whitman’s “Sea Drift”, and Gerald Finley in Stanford’s songs of the fleet and the sea.

    Topliss Green is unimprovable, and I’m not forgetting the former Scot postman introduced here of late.

  • Zoe Hancock says:

    Shanties are call and response work songs. These might well be nautical but they are not shanties.

  • Irene S says:

    Sorry but these are not shanties. They are not even real sea songs, but settings of poems by Masefield – a totally different kettle fish. Shanties are work songs, which these clearly are not (even despite Frederick Keels considerable involvement with the Folk-Song Society in his day.) Good to hear some of Keel’s arrangements though. Until now my principal knowledge of him was as the Editor of the Folk-Song Journal.

  • Paul Capon says:

    Do I hear a future Billy Budd?

  • CaptainBirdseye69 says:


  • OperaMike says:

    Sad to see young singers of this noble art lower themselves to following tiktok trends smh

  • Bryan B. Anderson says:

    OMG I Love this! So.beguiling – and great to see Topliss Green getting the credit he deserves, a fine dramatic singer of the Golden Age. Could we have some Topliss pics please?