One of the better entires in the Ohio Light Opera series
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 01/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For many years, I have owned a set of LPs with almost the complete score of Victor Herbert's "Naughty Marietta" and I once begged the Smithsonian people in vain to release it on CD. But now there is no pressing need since Albany has released a complete version, with dialogue yet, of "Naughty Marietta " (Troy 432). Although I object to tampering with an original, the Ohio Light Opera people have decided to tighten up on the original dialogue and change a character here and there. Let that go, as long as they do not tamper with the music. Other than the cute title song, we have a sequence of catchy melodies, never less than catchy, more often beguiling, two or three actually exciting, that may or not advance the silly plot. The plot, such as it is, is far from what the film version gave us. It is the incredible string of memorable songs that carry this work and it is so good to hear them at last in the original context: "Tramp, tramp, tramp," "It Never, Never Can be Love," "Italian Street Song," "'Neath the Southern Moon," "I'm Falling in Love With Someone," and the best of them all (even after Mel Brooks' hilarious use of it in "Young Frankenstein") "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life." The entire text is provided for your convenience. The singers range from adequate to quite good: Suzanne Woods (Marietta), John Pickle (Capt. Dick), Ann Marie Wilcox (Adah), and too many others to include here. They all seem to be enjoying themselves and you will too. Now this is one of four Victor Herbert operettas to be recorded in its entirety by the admirable Ohio Light Opera group under the baton of J. Lynn Thompson. In the past, I have had to chide several members of the casts for their "isn't all of this funny" manner of reading the dialogue; but here I find that except for one of the males (you will see which one I mean) who still uses that stilted operetta sort of delivery, the principals seem to be more into their characters (such as they are) and more convincing. I have to tip my hat to Producer John Ostendorf for the noble work he is doing in bringing back some of these gems from the past American musical theatre. Grab this one and do not forget the Ohio Light Opera albums of "The Red Mill," "Elaine," and "Sweethearts.""
More great CDs from Ohio Light Opera
F. Behrens | 12/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"About the best-kept secret on the American opera scene today is this little troupe in Ohio of all professional players, singers and theatre folk. For two decades and counting, under the hand of James Stuart, this summer operetta festival has brought not only the expected G&S and other familiar fare to the public, but a host of little-known treasures by Friml, Lehar, Straus, Romberg and even Victor Herbert, America's early 19th century answer to Andrew Lloyd Webber (Herbert was Irish, but spent his musical maturity occured, happily, in the US).
The wonderful thing about OLO is a series of CDs produced by two American labels of recent summer productions. Most handsome are the two under consideration here: Newport Classic's release of Oscar Straus' delightful The Chocolate Soldier and even better, Albany's Naughty Marietta, a delight by Victor Herbert. Both are, I believe, first complete recordings, certainly the only CD format pressings.
The Ohio Light Opera casts and orchestra are wonderful, stylish and give excellent renditions of the two works, and if these handsome recordings were culled from actual live performances, then OLO also boasts the most considerate, quiet audiences, who have the good sense to leave their coughs and candy wrappers in the lobby.
Suzanne Woods stars in both recordings and is an operetta soprano of enormous style, her refined line readings (both CDs include dialogue as well as all the music!!) and sumptuous singing are first-class. For anyone with even a partially sweet tooth, these two CDs are a must. Rumor also has it that Albany has just released Herbert's other gem--also unrecorded--The Red Mill, which teams with as many delicious melodies as Marietta. Can it be true? Congratulations all around."
Naughty But Nice
david gilbert | New York | 06/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kudos once again to that under-appreciated little company out in Ohio who in the summer spin magic in the cornfields for operetta lovers savvy enough to make it out there to see handsomely staged productions of works one never encounters elsewhere in America. And on top of that generosity, they provide periodic recordings of their efforts, mostly done live (which means some audience noises, acoustical compromises here and there--but by and large polished results that are amazing).
Naughty Marietta is better known than some of the things OLO does, but has not until now enjoyed a complete digital recording. Albany should be thanked for this series and for this one in particular, as we get "The Italian Street Song," "Stout-Hearted Men" and a handful of other classics. The CD sparkles every time soprano Suzanne Woods sings or speaks. She is a real find and had the spicy heroine down to a tee. The stalwart OLO orchestra and J. Lynn Thompson are a big asset. A great buy!!"
OLO'S NAUGHTY MARIETTA NEITHER FIRST NOR COMPLETE
Eric J. Beheim | Descanso,, Ca United States | 05/17/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The Ohio Light Opera's NAUGHTY MARIETTA is touted as being the "first complete 2-CD recording." If Victor Herbert was here to comment on that claim, he would probably say, "By Jove, it IS on 2 CD's." The truth is that the first and most complete stereo recording of NAUGHTY MARIETTA was done in 1980 as part of the Smithsonian American Musical Theater series. By comparing the Smithsonian version to the original piano vocal score, one can see that a best effort was made to include most of the music (vocal and non-vocal) that Herbert wrote for this remarkable operetta. Unfortunately the Smithsonian version is not available on audio CD's, thereby giving the Ohio Light Opera a technical loophole for making their claim of being "first." The OLO version does include some of the original spoken dialogue, abridged and revised to make it P.C. for modern audiences. Unfortunately, by including the dialogue, wholesale cuts and alterations had to be made to the music to fit everything onto two CD's. (Even the original overture was jettisoned and replaced by a vintage arrangement of orchestral highlights from NAUGHTY MARIETTA.) In short, the Ohio Light Opera's version is neither complete nor historically accurate. It is probably perfectly acceptable to the average listener who is only interested in hearing the highlights. However, musical theater scholars and fans who want to know what an original 1910 NAUGHTY MARIETTA performance must have sounded like are advised to save their money and try to locate a copy of the Smithsonian version on Ebay or wherever."
William Collins | Escondido, CA United States | 04/19/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This album is so "bright" that it is nearly unlistenable. They had the material which is quite good and then they engineered the album in such a way that one can only wonder how they had the guts to release it much less charge such a huge amount for it."