The first full-length D’Oyly Carte company recording of a late Savoy opera, newly remastered and generously coupled with a Phase 4 album featuring hit songs and numbers from the unequalled partnership of W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.
Princess Ida is unusual among Savoy operas for having a pair of tenor leads, and it is a rare treat to two of the finest tenors in the history of D’Oyly Carte side by side in this recording, and forming a superb trio with baritone Jeffrey Skitch’s Florian. Thomas Round gives a heroic performance as the romantic lead, Prince Hilarion, and Leonard Osborn takes the comic role of Hilarion’s friend Cyril.
The two previous recordings of Princess Ida were heavily cut, whereas this 1954 set presents Sullivan’s score (one of his finest) very nearly complete. Also notable is the presence of the soprano Victoria Sladen in the title role. Though not a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, she was cast to give vocal authority to one of the most uncompromisingly and thrillingly operatic parts in the G&S canon.
Ida is conducted with warm authority by Isidore Godfrey, music director at the D’Oyly Carte for nearly 40 years. But Sir Malcolm Sargent’s involvement with the company predated his by three years, beginning in 1926, and he continued to work with it throughout his career, including a complete Princess Ida recording of his own in 1965. In the same year he conducted a selection of hits from the G&S catalogue recorded with Decca’s Phase 4 stereo technique, which used multi-making to create dramatic spatial effects across the sound stage. The selection includes favourite numbers from H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and ‘There grew a little flower’ from Ruddigore. With featured singers including Donald Adams, Valerie Masterson, Kenneth Sandford and John Reed, masterminded by Sargent with sprightly tempi and vivaciously pointed phrases, the pleasure and authenticity of this collection is assured.