Label : Decca
Format : Flac track
Cover : No

The D’Oyly Carte Company made two stereo recordings of the major Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in the 1960s and ’70s, plus at least one of the minor ones. The recordings in this box set of re-issues were selected so that John Reed, reigning baritone at the time, appears in all the principal comedian roles. His patter isn’t very rapid, but his characterizations are amusing. To please either everyone or no one, some of the operas were recorded complete with dialog (e.g. The Pirates of Penzance) and some with no dialog (e.g. The Mikado). The dialog is on the same track as the musical number preceding it, which means you can’t program your CD player to skip it. In most of these performances, there is an overall sense that everyone is pretending, rather than acting. Dialog is delivered with slightly exaggerated emotion or attitude and in a somewhat singsong manner, showing off the lighthearted nature of the works. Although all of the company members are talented, listen especially for principals Valerie Masterson, Gillian Knight, Philip Potter, and Donald Adams. They are among the veterans appearing on what may be the best recordings yet made of H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. Compared to these, the Mikado is a little disappointing. Also included in the box are excellent examples of Sullivan’s orchestral writing, on the Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke discs, and Pineapple Poll, the ballet arranged by (and here, conducted by) Charles Mackerras from Sullivan’s works. Even if some of the operas were not the best work of Gilbert and Sullivan, and a few of the performances are less than what you would hope for from the company that premiered most of these works, these are classic performances, full of tradition.

Complete tracklist : Gilbert and Sullivan Edition