A Messy Mikado
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 04/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I gave this recording four stars instead of five only because the strongest singers in this album are Valerie Masterson and John Reed. This album dates back from a 1973 LP album. It has been digitally remastered for compact disc. I was drawn to this recording because based on the cover in the front and back I assumed this would be like the 1966 D'Oyly Carte Opera film. Pray make no mistake. This recording is nothing like the film. The singers sound very tired and old. These singers were approaching a status of veteran since they had been singing for the Company since the 60's. The 1966 film stars John Reed, Valerie Masterson, Phillip Potter (as Nanki Poo) and Christene Palmer as Katisha. Those 60's singers were the best. All the cast in this recording have their faults, except for the lyric baritone comedian John Reed and the sweet songbird that was the gorgeous Valerie Masterson, reprising their roles as Ko-Ko and Yum-Yum. Weakest of all is Lyndsie Holland, who is the alto singing the role of Katisha. First of all Lyndsie Holland is incorrectly cast as Katisha, the jealous older woman whose ambition is to marry Nanki Poo, the Mikado's son, and who vows revenge when she discovers Nanki Poo has fallen for Yum-Yum. Katisha calls for a dramatic mezzo soprano, not a contralto. Katisha is a fiery dragon-lady, imperious and vengeful. Lyndsie Holland puts nothing into her performance. Instead, she sounds comical!! She sounds weird and a lot like Miss Piggy from the Muppets. Just listen to her scene in the finale of Act 1. She interrupts the festivities as Nanki Poo and Yum-Yum are about to be married. She does'nt sound at all furious. At the later portions in that scene, when she threatens to reveal Nanki Poo's identity as the son of the Mikado, she is literally screetching and screaming (I"ll Spoil! Of Your! The Son of Your!) it' a terrible moment. Lindsie Holland did not compare to the greater Christene Palmer whom she replaced in the 70's. Here Miss Holland is only good in her solo aria "Alone And Yet Alive" especially in the dismal way she says "O sepulcher my soul is still my bodys' prisoner" and in her duet with Ko-Ko. Miss Holland was also a good Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore and as The Fairy Queen in Iolanthe. But she is totally wrong for the role of Katisha. With that said, get this recording only to hear the sublime sounds of John Reed and Valerie Masterson. John Reed is still delivering comedy at this point in the 70's (listen to how he says "Not you Silly" when he finally gives Yum Yum over to Nanki Poo (Take her she's yours) and to the warmth and comedy in his voice alone. Valerie Masterson was an incredible soprano who could sing opera in English (she sung Gilda, Lucia, Violetta and even the Bird in Ring of the Nibelung's Siegfried by Wagner as well as Cleopatra in Handel's Julius Caesar) and here her best moment comes in "The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze"."