Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
G&S's Last Collaboration Performed Very Well Indeed
Aronne | 01/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Grand Duke is, in my humble estimation, better than Utopia Limited and perhaps better than The Sorcerer. Just because it received an unenthusiastic reception in the 1890s doesn't mean it isn't worth listening to! Some of G&S's best numbers are contained in the Grand Duke:
"Won't it be a pretty wedding?" (Vintage Sullivan that is quite on par with "Search throughout the panorama" and "Dance a cachucha")
"By the mystic regulation" (Known among Savoyards as The Sausage Roll Song)
"Your Highness, there's a party at the door" (Contains a 6/8 theme as catchy as "Of happiness the very pith" from the Gondoliers)
"So ends my dream" (One of the most magnificent soprano songs, contrasting despair with the expectation that tomorrow brings)
"If the light of love's lingering ember" (The tenor, a technical ghost, tries to woo the soprano, who only bids him "good day.")
"Come bumpers -- aye, ever so many" (The drinking song in which the contralto explains how expensive wine cannot be enjoyed unless another pays for it)
This fails to touch on the roulette song and the rest of this fine opera! Granted a couple of the songs are less than inspired (like "At the outset I may mention"), but too many are inspired to nitpick about the others.
But on to the performance. Kenneth Sandford takes the largest part in the opera, Ludwig, singing very well, even if he is past his prime vocally.
Meston Reid, the tenor, does excellently, though as I have noted previously, the recordings of the 1970s have a problem placing Mr. Reid's voice farther forward than it should go.
Lynsie Holland, generally a downside to the 1970s recordings does pretty well here -- better than any other role I've heard her sing. The discomfort that often surfaces in her higher range generally takes a back seat. Julia Goss performs excellently as Julia Jellicoe.
Overall, this performance, while not as characterized as it could have been, presents everything very well under the circumstances. (The D'Oyly Carte only performed the Grand Duke publicly once in 1975 or 1976. This recording is a result of that single concert performance.) We are unlikely to receive a better performance of the Grand Duke in the near future: this recording is worthy of a place among the Mikados and Pinafores of any G&S fan's collection.
The three fillers are well performed, particularly the fairly well-known "Overture di Ballo," which here receives digital sound. They are a welcome makeweight that make this set even more enticing."