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South Pacific (New Broadway Cast Recording (2008))

South Pacific (New Broadway Cast Recording (2008))

23 May 2008
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

£7.99 (VAT included if applicable)
 
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Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
South Pacific (The New Broadway Cast Recording)

Kelli O'Hara and Paulo Szot both have superb voices and the rest of the cast were brilliant. You will really enjoy listening to this recording if you like Rogers & Hammerstein's music. This is a must for your music library if you like traditional musicals. When I go to New York I will definitely go and see the show on Broadway. Enjoy...
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I was lucky enough to see this fantastic production at the NY Lincoln Center earlier this year - very faithful to the original stage production and Hollywood technicolour extravaganza. This original 2008 cast recording even has Glee's Matthew Morrison (Lt. Cable) . . . and a brilliant Bloody Mary (a powerful performance from Loretta Ables Sayre) - what more could you ask for?! You won't be disappointed; buy it now, don't dither! :o)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 119 reviews
101 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars there is nothin' like a good revival 6 Jun. 2008
By John W. Cotner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
it is too easy to judge a revival of a golden broadway hit by the template of the original and find the newer show wanting; this one is not, believe me. i can understand how frank rich of the new york times burst into tears in response to the opening night show; i almost did, too, when i listened to this cd for the first time. this edition of south pacific -- only the second on the broadway stage in 60 years -- is simply sublime. i found it better than the original in many ways. it is the best revival since guys and dolls with nathan lane, better than the recent revivals of the music man (close) kiss me kate (not so much) and pal joey (get oudda here...).

and folks who say this recording is insipid or lacks energy or that certain songs are "too well sung" are all wet. the orchestrations are true to the original ones, so the music will immediately sound familiar and comfortable, but now with 21st century technology and crystal clear sound so you can hear what the music sounded like to folks back in 1949.

kelli o'hara is out of sight as nellie forbush; her voice is pure and clear and pitch perfect and conveys all the energy you'd want and she interprets the lyrics "correctly" (read: as we have come to understand from mary martin and mitzi gaynor). she even affects a southern accent, and exudes way more in good looks and femininity than mary martin ever did, and is more energetic and more of a real singer than mitzi gaynor in the movie. they can mail kelli the tony right now.

paulo szot as emile de becque fills up the music hall with his baritone-bass voice on his big songs, especially twin soliloquies and this nearly was mine. some enchanted evening was a little softer than ezio pinza's and that song needs to be boomed out. i was as satisfied with his voice overall, however, as with pinza's or rossano brazzi's -- and paulo has a sort of robert goulet look about him, with a mustache no doubt meant to instantly convey the french planter look.

the only voices i found wanting and suffering in comparison with the originals were loretta ables sayre as bloody mary -- she is not juanita hall and sounds too much like a middle-aged lea salonga and not gravelly and rough enough to convey bloody mary's edge and cynicism as hall did so well especially on bali ha'i or even happy talk

-- and matthew morrison, as joe cable, who has to strain to hit the high notes on younger than springtime, which william tabbert in the original show never had any problem with. springtime, along with some enchanted evening, are the male arias in this opera and need big voices to carry them off and morrison's is too thin. even on my girl back home he seems to be straining a bit. he does convey more youth than tabbert or john kerr, who played joe cable in the movie, did, which may be what R & H had in mind for the character.

the ensemble numbers -- there is nothin' like a dame, wash that man right outta my hair and i'm in love with a wonderful guy -- are strong and energetic; certainly no complaints there; every bit as good as the original.

one advantage of cds is that you can get more material on them than on lp records so there is some dialogue, which especially is effective when emile introduces his two children to nellie and she reacts as only a carefully taught bigoted southern belle would; you get more context for the drama and progression of the story in the songs.

the show is edgier and more up front and in your face re the race issue than the movie was; anyone who thinks rodgers and hammerstein were all warm and fuzzy fluffmeisters need only watch this show or listen to this cd -- and take a harder look at flower drum song to see that they had courage to confront, sometimes with seriousness and sometimes with humor, the race issue. finian's rainbow, which came out at about the same time, addressed it, too, but only showboat -- which came out 20 years before -- when done right and in its entirety with its full gravity and not as a minstrel show, confronts the race issue more and better than does south pacific.

i think there was an idealistic, optimistic (but not cockeyed) feeling in 1949 that it was a new world after the war and we all had a chance for a fresh start, under new rules, and the old rules, including of racial discrimination, were fair game to be overturned,, in polynesia as well as on main street usa, so R & H saw the opportunity to use michener's story as their soapbox to lend their voices to that movement.

if you are only going to buy one south pacific and want the best and most enjoyable one to listen to, i would buy this one rather than the original cast recording or the movie; i had both of those already, but from now on, this is the one i will mainly listen to -- it is that good.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Must Have Gotten Lost 19 Sept. 2008
By dramadude 186 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The first Broadway revival of "South Pacific" has been greeted with absolutely ecstatic reviews and a host of awards. I honestly don't think I've seen or read a single negative thing about this production. However, something must have been lost in the translation to CD, because I find this recording to be little more than mildly entertaining.

Musically, there is very little fault to be found with this CD. The performeres all have good (and in the case of Kelli O'Hara and Paolo Szot, great) voices. O'Hara's crystal clear tone rings like a bell on her songs, and Brazilian opera star Szot uses his expert understanding of musicality and dynamics to good effect. Szot is particularly impressive on "Some Enchanted Evening," where his voice caresses the melody and makes this oft-sung song sound new again.

Even more impressive is the orchestra, which at nearly 30 pieces is one of the largest on Broadway. This recording will make you long (if you don't already) for the days when such large pit orchestras were common, because they sound absolutely fabulous. From the first sumptuous chords of the "Bali Ha'i" melody that begin the overture to the final ultimo, the musicians - under the expert baton of conductor Ted Sperling - transport you to the tropical South Pacific and find every ounce of texture in the score's orchestrations.

With so much right, why only three stars? Well, it's almost as if the score is a little too perfect. In taking such care with the music, the performers seem to have lost the life of the characters. Rodgers & Hammerstein's brilliance was their ability to write beautiful melodies while serving story and character. The people they wrote these songs for are living life to the fullest, and experiencing a plethora of emotions they can only express in song. Many of the tracks on this CD lack that life and vigor. When we get the occassional glimmer of true feeling (such as during O'Hara's delightfully playful take on "Honey Bun"), it makes the rest of the CD that much more disappointing in comparason.

Don't get me wrong; I'm sure the show as performed nightly at the Vivan Beaumont is excellent. This recording does a lot of things right, and I know many people will absolutely adore listening to it again and again. But for me, I want more conviction captured on the CD, since like many people who buy it I will probably not get the chance to see the show live.
41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SOUTH PACIFIC 2008 CAST ALBUM A DISAPPOINTMENT 28 May 2008
By Wolfgang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The current 2008 Lincoln Center revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC, is an absolutely wonderful evening of entertainment, fully deserving of all the praise it has garnered so far. Unfortunately, little if any of the magic and excitement that the stage performance has in spades is to be found on this cast recording of the show. It is truly disappointing to report that the songs are sung here by the principals as if they have left their stage personas behind and decided to merely sing the songs as pop tunes rather than within the context of the show. Paulo Szot, in particular, gives rather lackluster performances of Emile de Becque's songs. On the stage, his acting and singing are exemplary but on this recording he appears to be singing phonetically, giving the impression he does not understand what the lyrics mean, certainly not the case in his stage performance. Even Kelli O'Hara, a superb singer whose voice is perfect for Nellie Forbush, sings her songs so carefully that it appears that she is trying to be letter perfect in her vocal delivery but little else, again in severe contrast from her stage vocals. Matthew Morrison, as Cable is the weakest singer in the show and that is evident even more so on this recording, but at least on the stage he more than made up for his vocal shortcomings by delivering a multi-layered acting performance in the role, which is of little consequence on this recording. In contrast, Loretta Ables Sayre, as Bloody Mary sings her numbers very close to what was heard on the stage and comes across best of all on this recording. The best that can be said of this cast album of SOUTH PACIFIC is that if you are looking for a memento of the stage production and you are completely unfamiliar with any other previous recordings of this score, it will probably be to your liking. It just is not as good as the live stage performance with the same cast.

The best recording of SOUTH PACIFIC remains the 1958 soundtrack South Pacific (1958 Film Soundtrack), which still sounds great and features definitive vocal performances and lush, atmospheric orchestral and choral work that has never been equaled on any recording of SOUTH PACIFIC. The still available 1949 Original Broadway Cast South Pacific (Original 1949 Broadway Cast) with Mary Martin & Ezio Pinza is truly special but the sound is not so good. The soundtrack offers the best combination of performance and sound ever accorded this score. In fact Richard Rodgers himself proclaimed at the time that the 1958 soundtrack was the most perfect recording of SOUTH PACIFIC ever. This 2008 revival cast album has done nothing to change that assessment.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thrilling new "South Pacific" 21 Aug. 2008
By Byron Kolln - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe that SOUTH PACIFIC has never received a Broadway revival since the original 1949 production (not counting a well-received 1967 Music Theater of Lincoln Center staging which starred Florence Henderson). Happily Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical masterpiece returned to the stage this year in an all-new, acclaimed revival. The cast album captures all the magic and excitement which is dazzling audiences nightly at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

Set on the islands during the tail-end of World War II and based on two story fragments from James A. Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific", the musical follows the romance of naval nurse Nellie Forbush (Kelli O'Hara) and French plantation owner Emile (Paulo Szot). Their relationship is tempered by Nellie's prejudices which are awakened when it's discovered that Emile fathered two children with a Polynesian wife. Meanwhile, handsome young Lt. Joe Cable (Matthew Morrison) finds himself questioning his own small-town American values when he's charmed by Bali Ha'i beauty Liat (Li Jun Li). Adding their own comical hijinks to the story are quick-witted island wheeler-dealer Bloody Mary (Loretta Ables Sayre) and her arch-nemesis, Luther Billis (Danny Burstein), a grounded seabee intent on discovering the delights which can only be found on her wondrous island of Bali Ha'i...

Playing the role of navy nurse Nellie, Kelli O'Hara gamely rises to the challenge, climbing out from under the imposing shadows of Mary Martin and Mitzi Gaynor to provide her own unique spin of the young woman suddenly forced to confront and conquer her racial prejudices if she ever wants to find true love. Ms O'Hara has previously enjoyed great success in the celebrated Lincoln Center production of THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (earning a Tony Award nomination as Clara); and was most recently seen starring opposite Harry Connick Jr. in the Roundabout's revival of THE PAJAMA GAME. With Southern drawl intact she scintillates her way through "A Cockeyed Optimist", "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair", "A Wonderful Guy" and "Honey Bun".

Making his musical theatre debut, talented opera singer Paulo Szot spins magic with "Some Enchanted Evening" and "This Nearly Was Mine". It must be something of an unofficial tradition to cast classically trained singers as Emile, following Ezio Pinza (1949) and Giorgio Tozzi (the singing voice for Rossano Brazzi in the film and later the 1967 production opposite Ms. Henderson). He's sensational here.

Matthew Morrison (HAIRSPRAY, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA) has the right amount of youthful zest and longing in his voice to perfectly nail "Younger Than Springtime". Longtime Broadway character actor Danny Burstein (THE DROWSY CHAPERONE) has a field-day as Luther, leading the boistrous seabee chorus in "There is Nothing Like a Dame". Talented Hawaiian singer Loretta Ables Sayre will give you the chills during "Bali Ha'i".

This is one of the most complete recordings of the show to date, including the Entr'acte and many dialogue passages which will help even the most casual listener follow the story. It's great having Nellie and Emile's dramatic scene leading up to the finale of Act One. The orchestra under the direction of Ted Sperling is lush.

Definitely one of this year's "Must Own" titles for show music fans. Excellent! [MASTERWORKS BROADWAY 88697-30457-2]
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant cast recording 5 Jun. 2008
By Niel Rishoi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Let's get one (very) relative cavil out of the way. If, in an ideal world, if I had a choice as to how a recording for such a show as this would be done, it'd be this. I'd have microphones set up at an ideal place between orchestra and stage. After the run was established, I'd record, say, two weeks worth of performances. Then, I'd have the artists, producers and recording engineers have a vote as to what the collectively, mutually-agreed upon best performance is of each given number. Allow some stage noises. The audience's reaction. The live, raw performance, with all its edge, tensions and artistic personalities all at the fore.

This is very much a studio affair. The microphoning, fairly close. The artists, of the studio, of a different mindset than in performance mode. Knowing this is for posterity. A bit more control, care involved. No audience to give to and respond off of. A slight tamping down of theatrical projection. Putting down something for forever must be a nerve-wracking premise. Therefore, the energy in this recording is painted in more subtle rather than bold strokes.

That said, this recording is an absolute triumph. I got carried away in the euphoria hearing the fresh accounts of the songs in this score. Laughing in delight at times, getting choked-up at others. This timeless show, so relevant today, hasn't dated or staled an iota. South Pacific captures the perfect American vernacular. These are our treasures, our American sentiments, our American dreams, our American expressions. Our American soul. (As an aside: I think the best account of this show I've ever read was in Shelley Winters's first autobio circa about 1980. She evokes the emotional, universal, post-war response to the show with a spot-on account. She relates how everyone acquired the records of the cast recording, and that they were played by everyone, all the time. Winters at the time was euphemistically "dating" Burt Lancaster, and she poignantly recounted how he reacted, tearfully, at the line "Most people live on a lonely island," which gave the impression of how he felt about himself as a person. That insight made me realize the deeper meaning, and it ended my view that "Bali Ha'i" was a sort of novelty song)

Who would ever have dreamed that we'd have this rightness of casting here, today, 60 years later. Maybe even more right in some ways now than then.

Here we have Paulo Szot, an Emile of one's dreams. The right age, voice, temperament, looks. Not younger than springtime, definitely younger than winter and autumn. Very much the summer is he, in his prime, not past it. Father of two very young children. A youngish, vital man. This is very much a baritone Emile, not Grandpapa Emile, not stately, not operatically grandiloquent, but human, thoughtful and romantic. His English, touched with the continental, is perfect. "Some Enchanted Evening" as warm, tender, thoughtfully phrased as one could wish. At first musing, contemplative, the song builds to a glorious climax, ending on a beautifully pensive note. His crowning moment comes in "This Nearly Was Mine." Inward, restrained, allowing the line to speak for itself; no overemoting, as I heard another, recent Emile do. No Emile I've ever heard makes the line 'close to my heart she came' so filled, as Szot achieves, with such a touchingly poignant sense of heartbreak. After the bridge, the return to the main melody is sung with even more quietly, its perfectly sustained, slender line of tone conveying a deeply pronounced loss and sadness. Szot allows his voice to quiver slightly at 'Now, now I'm alone,' and his concluding, 'Once, nearly was mine' to pour out with emotional fervor. You can deduce why Szot has won such a favorable response from audience and critics. I look very much forward to Szot's future work in opera; the MET, if it is smart, will not let him get away.

As Nellie, Kelli O'Hara is another winning casting coup. Blessed with a non-ingenue voice and manner, she brings a welcomely straightforward, easy spontaneity, as well as verve, to her music. Most notably, she avoids that all-purpose, dreadfully cheerful "spunk" (as Lou Grant says, "I HATE spunk") in her manner. O'Hara can Broadway-belt AND sing in an authentic soprano register. This is important. The belt is for the extrovert emotions of "I'm Gonna Was That Man Right Outta My Hair," and "A Wonderful Guy," and can hit the lows and highs very soundly, musically. Yet, when she has to sing the reprises of "Some Enchanted Evening," she can impart a soft, romantic timbre; particularly on track 24, she sings the verses with a most tender, wistful sense of longing, and she successfully utilizes a ballad-like singing tone. A very appealing portrayal, and O'Hara wins us over by her excellent tastes and instincts.

You may correctly assume that Matthew Morrison, as Joe Cable, does not have a "classically" trained voice, and I imagine he needs amplification. No matter; he sounds the part to a T - plausibly youthful. Morrison *really* sounds the young, bloom-of-youth marine. He has a very sweet tone, and uses it well, expressively. He doesn't bleat as some exponents of Cables do, nor does he sound confusingly sophisticated and professional as Bill Lee (excellent singer though he is), singing for John Kerr in the film soundtrack. "Younger than Springtime" is fresh, tender and romantically infatuated. But Morrison finds a new edge of realization, maturity and defiance in "Carefully Taught." Fittingly, he provides the right boyish contrast to the debonair, urbane, older Emile of Szot.

Loretta Ables Sayre is an impeccably right Bloody Mary. Right accent, right kind of strong, earthy, memorably "peasanty-islander"-evoked tone. Yet musical, characterful. "Bali H'ai" is alluringly sung, and "Happy Talk" is sprightly, but not overdone. Ables Sayre was a lucky find for this revival.

For all that is individual as these characterizations are, what makes these work with such dynamite success is how well they complement, yet *contrast* each other. Each character has its own voice, its own flavor and culture, and they collectively add up to a colorful series of vastly different personalities.

Then, too, the choral numbers have never sounded so lusty and roaring with life. They're having fun, and this is the kind of music to let it out.

We have here a very full representation of the show, a good one-third of it - clocking in at 65 minutes. The all-important reprises are included, as well as some dialogue, underpinned by the music. Very important, as it shows the evolution of the characters and story, with all its connective tissue. I always think that a show like this (and others) are akin to French Opera Comique, where there's songs, dialogue, and dialogue enhanced by music. The action brought forward by the dialogue, the song/music expressions of emotions.

The conductor, Ted Sperling, presides over the score with great love, precision and skill. I don't ever recall such a hand of such concise musical sensitivity applied to the score as here. The intros to numbers, and the dialogue underlinings stand out, and have an unusually emotional tug, and are all set up and delivered superbly well. "Bali H'ai," for example, is allowed its full mystical, harp-laden intro, and it gives it just that tantalizing, paradisiacal ambiance.

I salute all those involved in this peerless, joyful revival, which the public has turned into a hit show - again. Easy to see why. Besides its great music and moving story, and without needing any further elaboration, its themes are never more apt than they are now. I thank the collective efforts of all involved for fulfilling a "dream in my heart."

Niel Rishoi
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