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Sousa: El Capitan / Byess, Ohio Light Opera

Sousa / Ohio Light Opera / Daigle, Byess
Release Date: 11/09/2010 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1236/37  
Composer:  John Philip Sousa
Performer:  Kyle KnappAlta DantzlerNicholas WuehrmannNancy Maria Balach
Conductor:  Steven Byess
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera ChorusOhio Light Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SOUSA El Capitan Steven Byess, cond; Nicholas Wuehrmann ( Don Medigua ); Alta Dantzler ( Princess ); Nancy Maria Balach ( Isabel ); Kyle Knapp ( Verrada ); Ohio Light Op O & Ch ALBANY TROY 1236/37 (2 CDs: 88:53)

In Fanfare Read more 21:6 William Youngren wrote a thorough review of the only previous recording (at least to my knowledge) of Sousa’s most famous operetta, on the Zephyr label conducted by Ian Hobson. Youngren was glad the work was available in a decent performance, but had some reservations—the main one being that the orchestra used was much bigger than that envisioned by Sousa (I was taken with Youngren’s phrase, “Imagine a production of Figaro with the score expanded for Wagnerian orchestra”).

This new recording from the Ohio Light Opera answers all of Youngren’s objections—and is delightful from beginning to end. What I am not sure about, because I did not have access to a score nor to that earlier recording, is an explanation for the fact that this recording is about 10 minutes shorter than its predecessor. It would be hard to imagine that difference explained by faster tempos, particularly because this performance does not sound rushed. It could be a matter of cuts or repeats, I’m not sure.

Nonetheless, I can recommend this with enthusiasm. Nancy Maria Balach sings exquisitely as Isabel—her song in the second act is a highlight. But everything about the performance is first-class, and conductor Steven Byess captures the fun spirit and vitality of the score perfectly. Albany, unlike Zephyr on the previous release, also gives us a full libretto (the other major objection by Youngren to the earlier recording), though the diction is clear enough that for the most part one doesn’t need it. The recorded sound is clean and natural, the notes are superb, and the result is a truly delightful release.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

El Capitan (operetta) by John Philip Sousa
Performer:  Kyle Knapp (Boy Soprano), Alta Dantzler (Voice), Nicholas Wuehrmann (Voice),
Nancy Maria Balach (Voice)
Conductor:  Steven Byess
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera Chorus,  Ohio Light Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; USA 

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