The Los Angeles Savoy-Artes Utopia, Limited (1965)

King ParamountJames Harrison
ScaphioGary Gordon
PhantisBurton Ipp
CalynxAlan Sinclair
Lord DramaleighDerek Scott
Captain FitzbattleaxeRobert Mahoney
Captain Sir Edward CorcoranAlbert Raskind
Mr. GoldburyWilford Ugland
Sir Bailey BarreKenneth Lundberg
Mr. BlushingtonJohn McMillan
Princess ZaraAnna Maria Weber
Princess NekayaKathleen Salsbury
Princess KalybaDiana Monter
Lady SophyFlorence Greenberger
SalataDoris Surany
MeleneMary Conley
PhyllaBeatrice Bedford

Los Angeles Savoy-Artes
Conductor: Eugene Minor

This recording of Utopia never had a wide distribution but is of interest because the opera has had so few recordings. The conductor, Eugene Minor, is well known in G&S circles as the author of an original score for Thespis. Dialogue is not included, despite the crediting of three speaking roles. The recording is not in my personal collection, but J. Donald Smith provided this review:

Listening to this recently-acquired recording brought back some hazy memories of this production, which I saw live some thirty years ago. The recording is a professionally-made studio recording in stereo of the music, no dialog. The performance is characterized by brisk tempi, excellent diction and a superb orchestra, which was probably professional since no credits are given.

The chorus and most of the principals are excellent, but the few who are not make this recording a curiosity, rather than a must-have — particularly with the D'Oyly Carte performance available. Scaphio and Phantis are acceptable if not great, but the disaster is Paramount, the biggest part in the opera. His credits include a large number of patter roles, but of course, King Paramount is not a patter role, and by the time he has croaked his way through "First you're born" and "Subjected to your heavenly gaze" in a broad New York accent, one has almost had it. Fortunately, he is then off for a while, and the performances pick up. Either someone straightened him out between recording sessions, or someone else recorded the rest of Paramount's part, as it is much better sung.

As I remembered the production, the cast was trying so hard to make everything intelligible for an audience almost totally unfamiliar with the work, that the dramatic characterization was rather weak. It was not until Lady Sophy's lament, "When but a maid of fifteen year," that there was any kind of audience empathy with the performance. It is amazing how much that still is true in the recording.

Issue History
1965 Custom Fidelity LP CFS-1412