The 1954 D'Oyly Carte Mikado Radio Broadcast

The MikadoDonald Adams
Nanki-PooNeville Griffiths
Ko-KoPeter Pratt
Pooh-BahFisher Morgan
Pish-TushJeffrey Skitch
Go-ToJohn Banks
Yum-YumMay Sanderson
Pitti-SingJoyce Wright
Peep-BoBeryl Dixon
KatishaAnn Drummond-Grant

D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
Conductor: Isidore Godfrey
Narrator: John Ellison

Recorded at the Savoy Theatre
25 November 1954

Sounds on CD VGS256
Sounds on CD VGS256

Several years ago, Chris Webster kindly provided a retrospective of all the broadcast performances (radio or TV) that the D'Oyly Carte Company created or participated in, over a remarkable period from 1926 to 1975. The earliest of these are almost certainly lost, but many of those made in the 1950s and afterwards do survive in private transcriptions. As the fifty-year copyrights expire, these live performances will start to enter the public domain—as this unique broadcast of The Mikado has now done.

Chris Webster provided this background on the occasion of the CD re-issue:

On Boxing Day 1954 the BBC broadcast a performance of The Mikado that they had recorded live at the Savoy Theatre a month earlier. Although the BBC's original copy is long gone, an off-air copy has been discovered, and while the sound quality is no match for what is achievable today with live off-air recordings, and the tape does have a few problematic moments, this transcription of a wonderful live performance and a great piece of D'Oyly Carte and G&S history will still, I am confident, be welcomed by enthusiasts. I make this disclaimer against the sound quality only so that potential buyers are not expecting too much —if you are in doubt, then give this a miss — but, even so, the sound is not all that bad, and as Tony Gower states in his accompanying notes, "Having heard the original surviving off-air tape, I can confirm that a remarkable job of sound restoration has been done in bringing this recording to its present condition, though inevitably the sound quality still falls some way short of what could have been achieved with better source material. However, these technical shortcomings very quickly fade into insignificance and are barely noticed once the performance is under way and one is drawn into the action."

Fans of the 1957 Decca recording of The Mikado (and of the Pratt era in general) may be especially delighted with this archive recording, as many of the performances captured in the studio can now be heard live.

For Chris's further comments, see the D'Oyly Carte Broadcast retrospective page.

Issue History
Sounds on CD 2005 CD VGS256