Other Important G&S Recordings of the Stereo Era

In 1966, RCA recruited Martyn Green and several other former D'Oyly Carte singers for a recording of Pirates. Green was well past his prime, but his strong name recognition was good enough to sell plenty of records. One suspects this recording had a lot to do with D'Oyly Carte making their own set, with dialogue, in 1968, when the 1957 recording was still perfectly serviceable.

In 1970, the University of Kansas-based Mount Oread Gilbert & Sullivan Company mounted The Grand Duke in conjunction with an international conference. The production attracted considerable attention in the G&S community, for performances of the opera were extremely rare at the time. The recording, based on these performances, is at this point more of an historical curiosity.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Pearl Records published amateur recordings of several infrequently-heard Sullivan operas, including Utopia, Limited, The Grand Duke and Haddon Hall. The Pearl Utopia was a performance by the Lyric Theater Company on three discs, with full dialogue. It had previously been issued privately in the 1960s, along with several other productions by that company. The Pearl Grand Duke and Haddon Hall were performances by the Cheam Operatic Society. These issues were certainly a daring risk on Pearl's part and they are to be commended for it. The former two clearly were eclipsed by the D'Oyly Carte recordings of these operas in the mid-seventies. None has been re-issued on CD.

Transatlantic Records published a recording of The Black Mikado in 1975, based on the successful West End production of the same name. It is not in my personal collection, but the one review I've received is extremely favorable. (See the recording's web page.)

In 1979, Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival mounted a revamped and re-orchestrated Pirates in New York's Central Park. The production subsequently enjoyed a successful two-year run on Broadway and toured extensively. Many G&S purists wrung their hands at Papp's many liberties with the original book and score, but the production's success was undeniable. This version of the opera (Papp's Pirates, as it has come to be called) was recorded by the "original cast," and issued on LP and cassette.

In 1984, a group called the London Opera Players made a recording of Cox & Box which they intended would be released by a commercial label. This release fell through, but a decade later the recording was released on cassette by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society.

Two foreign language recordings — Der Mikado (1985) and El Mikado (1987) — close out this roundup. They are curiosities, but well worth hearing.

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