Well done recording of a noteworth early musical
Marc Kenig | Mountain View, CA United States | 07/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of The Geisha is a chance to listen to a marvellous performance of a noteworthy VERY early 1890's musical comedy. It's a must have for those with interests operetta or in these operetta-like early musical comedies.The Geisha is the second full score by Sidney A. Jones, after the success of his - maybe THE - first musical comedy hit The Gaiety Girl. Jones composed The Geisha in accordance to his "brevity and brightness" definition of Musical Comedy to distinguish it from contemporary (1890s) Operetta. The numbers are short and bright and breezy, many reflecting the contemporary popular song of the day. But as with operetta, the numbers are all meant to be sung 'legit' and the orchestration is very classical in nature.The Geisha became a huge international hit, and it's not hyperbole that it set a model for all of the musical comedies which came after it. It's just difficult to see what the big deal was 100 years later. Though it has very definate high points, on the whole Jones' score sounds to me rather like mediocre (Gilbert &) Sullivan, though I readily admit that is a very unfair comparison. Jones was trying for something different and he definately succeeded. Unlike others of the period it's clear Jones wasn't trying to be derivative of Sullivan and was developing his own style.Also, the early practice of interpolation of songs by other composers into musicals is in evidence. Two numbers by Lionel Monckton stand out in the score.The libretto is quite good - a story of switched identities that is quite amusing. One word of caution: This is not a work for the Highly Politically Correct. It reflects attitudes, slang, and xenophobia prevalent in the 1890's. It does not set out to purposely offend, but it doesn't take kindly to foreigners or their funny languages and customs. Don't expect a modern-day revival staging anytime soon.This single CD is a modern professional studio recording of the neglected work, excluding dialog. The lead performer's and the orchestra are excellent with absolutely no weak links. Especially noteworth are the wonderfully vocal characterizations throughout. The choral work is first rate.The well-produced CD comes with a libretto and extensive liner notes."
A curate's egg
firstname.lastname@example.org | Melbourne, Australia | 09/06/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The historical importance of Sidney Jones' The Geisha in the development of musical comedy is indisputable. Whether it holds up quite so well as an entertainment today is a different matter. The Geisha has been very well served by its reputation in some respects, but not at all in others.The music has a certain music hall charm to it. The score is rarely adventurous - "predictable" I imagine will be the most likely verdict for most listeners, but it certainly is easy on the ear. The performance on this CD is beyond reproach, with excellent soloists and a finely drilled chorus. It would be hard to imagine a better performance than this.But to be frank The Geisha evolved from better stuff - specifically the Gilbert and Sullivan operas which were a clear inspiration. And it in turned spawned far better musical comedies; an historical nod is all I can bring myself to give its own merits.And there is the question of political correctness. Anything that makes Flower Drum Song or even The Mikado look like The Last Emperor has got problems. Songs like Chin Chin Chinaman don't help its cause."