G&S Discography: The Digital Era

Digital compact discs are the fifth and final major recording technology covered in this Discography. CD's represent two improvements over conventional stereo records: digital recording and digital playback. People may forget that the former was invented before the latter. For a few brief years, digitally-recorded LPs were the rage. For better or worse, this was an intermediate step in the technology that the G&S operas mostly missed — the old D'Oyly Carte had stopped making recordings, and none had yet taken their place.

After the old D'Oyly Carte's last recording (the 1979 Yeomen), there was a dark age of nearly a decade when hardly any new G&S recordings were made. Indeed, after compact discs took over the record stores, but before many of the older recordings were re-issued, there was a period in the United States when most of the operas were not available in any form at all, except from used record stores. (The operas seem to have been available continuously in the United Kingdom.)

New G&S recordings have appeared with great regularity through the 1990s. When the many re-issues are considered, it can safely be said that now is the best time in a long time to be collecting the G&S operas on disc. Still, since the 1980s, G&S recordings in print have been dominated by re-issues. With the New D'Oyly Carte in at least temporary distress, it is not clear where the next great series of new recordings will come from, although at least there are plenty of existing ones to choose from.

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