Notes and Editorial Reviews
1. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Prologue
2. Pacific Overtures, musical play: The Advantage of Floating in the Middle of the Sea - (with English National Opera)
3. Pacific Overtures, musical play: There is No Other Way - (with Alan Woodrow/English National Opera)
4. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Four Black Dragons - (with Terry Jenkins/English National Opera)
5. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Chrysanthemum Tea - (with Harry Nicoll/Simon Masterton-Smith/Gordon Christie/John Cashmore/Ian Comboy/English National Opera)
6. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Poems - (with Malcolm Rivers/English National Opera)
7. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Welcome to
Kanagawa - (with Gordon Christie/John Cashmore/Leon Berger/Terry Jenkins/English National Opera/Michael Sadler)
8. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Someone in a Tree - (with Harry Nicoll/Alan Woodrow/English National Opera/Eric Roberts)
9. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Please Hello - (with Harry Nicoll/Alan Woodrow/John Kitchiner/Paul Strathearn/Ian Comboy/English National Opera/Eric Roberts)
10. Pacific Overtures, musical play: A Bowler Hat - (with English National Opera)
11. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Pretty Lady - (with Alan Woodrow/Leon Berger/English National Opera)
12. Pacific Overtures, musical play: Next - (with English National Opera)
Composed by Stephen Sondheim.
Composer: Stephen Sondheim.
Personnel: Yoshikazu Iwamoto (shakuhachi); Claire Lutter, Donna Louise, Diana Choy, Carolyn Choa (dancer).
Audio Remasterer: Sophie Marchant.
Liner Note Author: Henrietta Bredin.
Recording information: CTS Studios, London, England (11/24/1987-12/05/1987).
Author: John Weidman.
Editor: Ben Turner .
Photographer: Catherine Ashmore.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Joji Hirota; Michael Lloyd .
Although it failed to find a sustaining audience when it opened on Broadway in 1976, Pacific Overtures, a musical about the opening of Japan to the West written by John Weidman with songs by Stephen Sondheim, continued to attract interest over the years, with an Off-Broadway production in 1984 and a British regional premiere in 1986. The English National Opera took it up the following year, opening the first London performance on September 10, 1987, followed shortly after by a recording of the full show that was issued on two CDs (That's Entertainment Records TER-21152) and a slightly abridged double-LP set (TER-21151). The most commonly available version, however, was this highlights disc, which contains the songs only. Roughly comparable to the Original Broadway Cast album (though 11 minutes longer), it presents a somewhat more formal version of the score, probably because the Broadway version employed Asian and Asian-American actors, while this one features British opera singers who miss much of the humor of the score. For instance, Simon Masterton-Smith, playing the Shogun's mother, sings "Chrysanthemum Tea," a song of murder, with plenty of menace but none of the character that Broadway's Alvin Ing brought to it. The one song that the opera singers do really well with is "Please Hello," in which admirals from various countries demand admittance to Japan; particularly effective is the British one, played by Eric Roberts, who sings a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan's "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" with both the necessary speed and individual phrasing. Nevertheless, the Broadway album remains superior. [In 2004, Jay Records released a remastered version of this album that improved it enormously. The original 1988 TER Classics edition had been mastered so softly that it was difficult to hear well, even at high volume. The new version largely corrected this problem.] ~ William Ruhlmann
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