This recording of THE GONDOLIERS comes from 1960 when the old D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was at the height of it's post-war powers. This was also one of the first recordings of what was to become affectionatly known as the 'DECCA 2nd Series', first series having begun in 1949 with TRIAL BY JURY and ended in 1955 with PRINCESS IDA.
THE GONDOLIERS was also one of four recordings in this series to include complete dialogue, something that would spark endless debate. Some wanted the full dialogue with all recordings, some wanted none. I personally would say that Gilbert and Sullivan sparked off each other and as we want to hear every note of Sullivan we should hear every word of Gilbert. After all we expect ever word, spoken or sung, in a work by Offenbach, Lehar, Johann Strauss et al.
Certainly this recording has never been bettered as an all round representation of the piece as staged at that time by D'Oyly Carte and if to some the dialogue does seem stilted, well that is the way it was performed at that time, not just professionally, but by amateur companies worldwide, and in some cases still is.
But the glory here is that there could not be a happier show - one to raise the spirits and to fill the soul with italianate sunshine!
John Reed - who had just one year previously been playing Antonio/Annibale - already revealing the talent that was to make him one of the great G & S comedians, Gillian Knight a formidable Duchess, Mary Samson and Joyce Wright as Gianetta and Tessa, Kenneth Sandford, still a new comer, an excellent Don Alhambra, Alan Styler and Thomas Round imcomparable as Giuseppe and Marco. The whole supported by Isidore Godfrey conducting a superb chorus and orchestra.
The only quibble is the ridiculous side break right in the middle of the Act One finale. Surely DECCA could have done something about this as there is room on the first CD for the whole act and this is the second reissue of this particular recording.