The Sargent/EMI Mikado (1957)

The MikadoOwen Brannigan
Nanki-PooRichard Lewis
Ko-KoGeraint Evans
Pooh-BahIan Wallace
Pish-TushJohn Cameron
Yum-YumElsie Morison
Pitti-SingMarjorie Thomas
Peep-BoJeannette Sinclair
KatishaMonica Sinclair

Pro Arte Orchestra
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Conductor: Sir Malcolm Sargent

Recorded 5-6 May, 15 June & 3 August 1956

EMI CDS7 47773-2
EMI CDS7 47773-2
HMVD 5 73059 2
HMVD 5 73059 2

In 1957, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's monopoly on the British performing rights for the G&S operas still had four years to run. But, due to an odd gap in the copyright laws, anyone who wanted to record the operas was free to do so. The introduction of the stereo LP in the mid-fifties apparently was the impetus for EMI and Sir Malcolm Sargent to launch their own series of G&S opera recordings in direct competition with D'Oyly Carte. In fact, Sargent managed to issue his first stereo recording about a year before D'Oyly Carte did so.

HMV ASDM 256/7 (New Zealand)
HMV ASDM 256/7 (New Zealand)
Angel 3573 B/L
Angel 3573 B/L

Since the best G&S specialists were under contract to D'Oyly Carte, Sargent took the approach of recruiting singers from the world of grand opera. While these artists could not match the D'Oyly Carters' idiomatic feel for the material, it was Sargent's belief that they could make up for this with superior musical values. Whether the trade was an even one can be debated, but Sargent certainly deserves credit for recruiting a strong team and keeping it largely intact for the six years that it took for the series to be completed. The entire series featured the Pro Arte Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus; thus, these are sometimes called the "Glyndebourne" recordings, even though they had no other association with the Festival.

Sargent's own background with G&S was of long standing. He conducted D'Oyly Carte's 1926 London Season and was brought back periodically as a guest through the late 1960s. Most of D'Oyly Carte's electrical recordings were also led by Sargent, as were two of its stereo recordings from the 1960s. The bulk of his career, however, was spent directing symphonic music. He was one of the few mainstream conductors who took Sullivan seriously. (Sir Charles Mackerras is Sargent's main competitor in this regard.)

The Sargent recordings have never been out of the catalog for very long. They remained available as long as LPs were offered for sale and were re-issued on CD starting in 1987. I am no great fan of the Sargent recordings. For an opera like The Mikado that has been capably recorded so many times, I find that this set offers very little.

As an aside, this recording preserves the "n-----" word in Ko-Ko's little list song, but alters it in the Mikado's song.

Angel AVB 34020
Angel AVB 34020
Issue History
Dec. 1957 HMV Mono LP ALP 1485/6  
Sept. 1958 HMV Stereo LP ASD 256/7
1958? HMV Australia Mono LP OALP 1485/6
Stereo LP OASD 256/7
ca. 1958 HMV Stereo LP ASDM 256/7 New Zealand issue
1960s Angel Mono LP 3573 B/L  
Stereo LP S3573 B/L
reel-to-reel Y2S-3573
HMV Mono 45rpm 7ER 5174 One disc, labeled "Act 1 Excerpts"
???? Angel Stereo LP SBL-3573  
???? Angel Stereo LP SCB3724 Three discs: Mikado highlights + Pinafore highlights + patter songs
Jan. 1976 EMI Stereo LP SXDW 3019  
Feb. 1976 EMI Cassette EXE 1021
1985 EMI/Angel Stereo LP AVB 34020 Digitally remastered.
Cassette 4AVB-34020
Nov. 1987 EMI CD CDS7 47773-8  
Jul. 1989 EMI Stereo LP EX7 49696-1 Also includes Trial and Gondoliers.
Cassette EX7 49696-4
Oct. 1992 EMI CD CMS7 64406-2  
1998 HMV CD HMVD 5 73059 2 Slimline double sold in HMV shops exclusively.
2001 EMI CD 5744682 16-CD set containing all nine of the Sargent "Glyndebourne" G&S recordings, plus various Sullivan orchestral works