G&S Discography: The Stereo Era

After the introduction of the long-playing record in about 1950, the invention of stereo was not far behind. The earliest widely-distributed G&S stereo album (Sir Malcolm Sargent's "Glyndebourne" Mikado) appeared in 1957, so the reign of the monaural LP had been short indeed. Of course, newly-minted mono LPs would continue to appear through the mid-sixties, and many stereo recordings made in this period would be issued simultaneously in mono, so the format was far from dead.

As throughout its history, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was quick to exploit the new recording technology. The Company's monaural LP recordings were recorded in a concentrated burst between 1949 and 1955, but by 1957 the operas were being recorded anew in the superior format.

The stereo era was the first to see a significant number of non-D'Oyly Carte complete recordings. The British copyrights on Sullivan's music expired in 1950, and according to the laws of the time, this freed others to record the operas, even though the copyrights on Gilbert's words would last another eleven years. (Non-D'Oyly Carte recordings of excerpts and detached highlights were governed by different copyright laws and had always been plentiful.)

Plenty of artists took advantage of the opportunity to put their own stamp on the operas, but none more so than Sir Malcolm Sargent, whose recordings with grand opera singers and the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus set a musical standard that, forty years later, remains unsurpassed. Many other non-D'Oyly Carte recordings appeared during this period, as well, making the 1960s and '70s the most active period of G&S record-making to date.

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