The Michael Sammes Mikado (1966)

Madge Stephens, soprano
Enid Heard, mezzo-soprano
Helen Landis, contralto
John Camburn, baritone
Nicholas Curtis, tenor
Eric Wilson-Hyde, bass-baritone
Michael Sammes, baritone

The Michael Sammes Singers
Orchestra conducted by John Gregory

Diplomat CP-217
Diplomat CP-217
Fontana Special 859 019 FZY
Fontana Special 859 019 FZY

Michael Sammes made numberous recordings in the 1960s of highlights from musicals and operettas. His G&S output includes several discs dedicated to individual operas, plus a Best of Gilbert and Sullivan disc consisting of highlights from all the others. The singers are not credited with specific roles, but presumably Sammes sang Ko-Ko. Eric Wilson-Hyde was never a member of D'Oyly Carte, but he made a guest appearance as Bob Becket, the Carpenter's Mate on the 1960 Pinafore, so presumably he sang either The Mikado or Pooh-Bah. Helen Landis was the contralto on all the Gilbert and Sullivan For All recordings.

Contents are as follows:

Side 1Side 2
  1. Overture / If you want to know who you [sic] are
  2. A wandering minstrel I
  3. Our great Mikado
  4. Behold the Lord High Executioner
  5. I've got a little list
  6. Three little maids / So please you sir we much regret
  7. Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted
  8. To sit in solemn silence; Threatened cloud has passed away / Oh fool that flee-est / For he's going to marry Yum-Yum
  1. Braid the raven hair
  2. The sun whose rays are all ablaze
  3. Here's a how-de-do
  4. Mi-ya-sama / A more humane Mikado
  5. The flowers that bloom
  6. Alone and yet alive
  7. Willow, tit willow
  8. There is beauty in the bellow of the blast / For he's gone and married Yum-Yum

Geoff Dixon provided the following comments:

Phillips 6641 241 9299 316
Phillips 6641 241 9299 316

Not all the items in the above list are complete by any means, since the recording contains many cuts and jumps. The overture consists of just a few bars of miscellaneous muddle, whilst accompaniments are changed and re-orchestrated. Sullivan's harmonies do not always survive and the tempi vary — from the acceptable to the turgid. Two examples of typical abbreviation are:

  1. "I am so proud" consists entirely of the final ensemble ( The sleeve title for this number is quite accurate since that is exactly where it starts!)
  2. The Finale to Act I lasts just 4 minutes and ends just before Katisha's "The Hour of gladness."

The individual principals are acceptable enough — particularly perhaps the soprano and the tenor — and some items emerge quite creditably. The performance suffers from the lack of a proper chorus, although the overall effect is not so slinky and creamy as the Michael Sammes Gondoliers. A one-word summing up would have to be "bland," and this recording could not be used to persuade anyone of the excellence of G&S.

Issue History
1966 WING (Philips) Stereo LP WL-1109  
1966 Diplomat Stereo LP CP-217
1966 Ditto Cassette DTO-10244A Also contains Iolanthe
1967-8? Fontana Stereo LP SFL-13029  
196-? Fontana Stereo LP 859 019 FZY Australian Issue
197-? Philips International Stereo LP 6625 005 [U.K.]
6641 241 [Australia]
Two-record set, "G&S Extravaganza, Vol. 1," including the Michael Sammes Mikado and Iolanthe