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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Desert Song, Sigmund Romberg’s classic musical with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel, is brought to life in this 1959 Living Stereo recording. The cast features Giorgio Tozzi – a mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera at the time – Kathy Barr and Peter Palmer (Lil’ Abner). Legendary maestro Lehman Engel provided brand new arrangements as well as serving as musical director for the recording. Long unavailable in any format, this is the first release of the 1959 Studio Cast recording of Desert Song in the digital era.
Thirty years ago the operetta stage reached one of its highest points when Sigmund Romberg's The Desert Song thundered across the stages of the world, thrilling
audiences with its wonderful combination of romantic love songs and full-throated male singing ensembles. And when the dashing Red Shadow swept the love-struck Margo into his arms and carried her over the burning sands, he held every woman within hearing in the palm of his hand.
In the album you hold in your hands, two great voices of today, Giorgio Tozzi and Kathy Barr, sparkling modern orchestral arrangements by Lehman Engel, and the finest recording techniques are all blended to bring you a new RCA Victor production of The Desert Song which does full justice to the beloved Romberg melodies.
The rich, warm voice of Chicago-born, Milan-trained Giorgio Tozzi captures the excitement of “The Riff Song,” the dedicated love of “One Alone” and the beguiling romance of “The Desert Song.” You have only to listen to understand why Giorgio Tozzi is winning new laurels at the Metropolitan Opera each year.
Beautiful young Kathy Barr is the Margo of our production. She sings the difficult and demanding role, including the lovely “Romance” and “The Sabre Song,” with all of the vocal wizardry which has won her the applause of musical comedy and night club audiences from San Francisco to Monte Carlo.
Then there is the glorious singing ensemble to provide rich tones for the full-stage musical numbers, the likes of which are not being written any more. All in all, The Desert Song is a lovely recapture of a time gone by, told in the musical language of today by a pair of singing stars whose voices were made for each other. So put the disc on your player, lean back, and fall once more under the spell of The Desert Song.
– Leonard Louis Levinson, 1958, from the original liner notes for LOP-1000
Works on This Recording
The Desert Song by Sigmund Romberg
Peter Palmer (Voice),
Giorgio Tozzi (Bass),
Kathy Barr (Voice),
Warren Galjour (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1926; USA
Prelude and Opening Chorus
Why Did We Marry Soldiers?
French Military Marching Song
Opening Chorus - Act II (My Little Castagnette)
Average Customer Review: ( 8 Customer Reviews )
Great score misses in production February 10, 2013
By John Esche See All My Reviews
"It is understandable that so many responses to this title should express such disappointment with it. THE DESERT SONG is one of Sigmund Romberg's supreme achievements in operetta composing, arguably even surpassing his STUDENT PRINCE and its content, fictionalized from headlines in the 1920's, retains timely aspects in the 21st Century. Given Lehman Engel's involvement in the beautifully recorded but brief (averaging about 22 minutes per show on a single LP side originally) Readers' Digest Operetta Box Set - which also used Peter Palmer - and the well mounted Broadway revival in 1973, one reasonably expected this recording to be close to a definitive preservation of the score. Sadly, it isn't. The reasons will vary from listener to listener, but the main problems from this perspective were 1) rushed tempos which robbed the work of its romance and mystery in too many places and still did not seem to allow room on the limited LP space for the essential comedy numbers, "It" and "One Good Boy Gone Wrong" which liven the show and complete its honest period feel and 2) the miscasting of the two leads (Tozzi and Barr) who didn't have the warmth or "chemistry" for THIS score at that point in their careers. The recording is never painful to listen to, and the Romberg, Hammerstein, Harnach, Mandel work (inexplicably UNCREDITED on the original LP cover!) is so enjoyable in almost any form that many will want this version anyway, but it isn't all it should have been. I wish someone on the site would note any differences between the original mono issue (LOP-1000) and the stereo version (LSO-1000) being burned for Arkiv. In the early days of stereo such differences were common and while I just burned a CD from my mono-LP, if there is different material in the stereo version I might still be interested in acquiring it; THE DESERT SONG remains one of my favorite scores - even in this over all disappointing version."
Dreadful Recording October 29, 2012
By J. Waldmann (Carmel, IN) See All My Reviews
"Whatever prompted Masterworks to release this bomb? Tozzi has a nice voice, but he sounds as though he's mailing in his performance, and the least said about Kathy Barr the better. Say what you will about Nelson Eddy, but his recording (with Doretta Morrow, et. al, also arranged and conducted by Lehman Engel) is far better. It has life and zest, much better soloists, and a superior chorus. The sound on my old LP is equal to this early Living Stereo release, and it's in old-fashioned mono! Come on, Masterworks. There are dozens of titles in your vaults more worthy of release than this."
Disappointing Desert Song October 24, 2012
By Martin Halacy (Chicago, IL) See All My Reviews
"This is a very dated recording. Tozzi is the only singer in the cast whose artistry outlives its era. The sound quality is quite poor especially when compared with that of other recordings from the early Fifties."