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Moore: The Ballad of Baby Doe / Sills, Buckley

Release Date: 04/20/1999 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 465148   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Douglas Moore
Performer:  John DennisonDonald ArthurWilliam SaxonLynn Taussig,   ... 
Conductor:  Emerson Buckley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York City Opera OrchestraNew York City Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 14 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

In its first week on the market, this eagerly awaited CD issue is the number-one classical seller at New York's Tower Records. Which is to say, it doesn't need this review. For the record, though: When Beverly Sills sang the "Willow Song" at her first audition for the role, the composer said "Miss Sills, you are Baby Doe." She still is, and always will be, even though she did not originate the role. Sills's vocal character and abilities fit Moore's music to a tee. Its most urgent challenge is that Baby Doe's vocal line often leaps to very high notes, and must sound smooth and easy all the while. Sills could do that like nobody else, hitting the notes right on, and this 1959 recording caught her at her early best. Her Read more Willow Song is one of the supreme moments of all recorded opera, and the closing "Always through the changing" is equally beautiful. Cassel and Bible also sing well, and all three contribute to a tight, dramatic production that makes the most of the characters as well as the music. The competition is last year's Newport Classics release (Fanfare 22:1) in which Jan Grissom is a surprisingly fine Baby Doe, but the rest of that production does not begin to measure up to this one.

The early stereo recording, originally on MGM Records before it appeared on Heliodor and finally Deutsche Grammophon LP sets, has a bright, clean sound, and DG has emphasized those qualities in this transfer. If it occasionally sounds a bit thin, it makes every word intelligible, and comes as a relief from the current trend to blowsy, reverberant recorded sound. The booklet reprises much of the original DG notes, from the cover art to old photos of the real Baby Doe Tabor. The complete libretto is included, in English only. Sills writes, "There have been only a few times in my entire career when I have walked out of the theater feeling I have done everything I wanted to do with a role and Baby Doe is one of those definitive experiences." Yup.

-- James H. North, FANFARE [9/1999] Read less

Works on This Recording

The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore
Performer:  John Dennison (Baritone), Donald Arthur (Bass), William Saxon (Voice),
Lynn Taussig (Voice), Arthur Newman (Bass), George Del Monte (Voice),
Keith Kaldenberg (Voice), Edson Hoel (Voice), Dan Marek (Voice),
Peter Sliker (Voice), Joshua Hecht (Bass Baritone), Beatrice Krebs (Alto),
Dorothy White (Voice), Lou Rodgers (Voice), Jennie Andrea (Voice),
Mary LeSawyer (Soprano), Robert Atherton (Voice), Lynda Jordan (Voice),
Helen Baisley (Voice), Greta Wolff (Voice), Jack DeLon (Tenor),
Chester Ludgin (Baritone), Grant Williams (Tenor), Frances Bible (Mezzo Soprano),
Walter Cassel (Baritone), Beverly Sills (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emerson Buckley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York City Opera Orchestra,  New York City Opera Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/1959 
Length: 134 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: English 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 good performance, poor recording May 7, 2016 By T. Molloy (Kingwood, TX) See All My Reviews "As a member of Houston's symphony orchestra for many years, I played this opera with the Houston Grand Opera Company with some of the original cast in 1968, and also purchased this recording on the Heliodor label. It has literally been almost 45 years since I have heard it, since the original LP has long since vanished from my collection. Consequently, I was glad to see that it was available on CD. The performance is as good as I remembered, but, unfortunately, the recorded sound is little improved. At the time, I thought the annoying distortion was the result of faulty, indifferent pressing on the vinyl, but the same distorted sound is in considerably evidence on the CD release as well. However, the performance is quite excellent, and it it doubtful that another of like quality will be forthcoming any time soon." Report Abuse
 Unmissable January 30, 2015 By Rory R. (Winnipeg, MB) See All My Reviews "One can argue about the greatest American opera, but certainly Ballad of Baby Doe has the most moving conclusion of any. Now that is available again, it would be a great remiss for anyone who loves Beverley Sills not to have it at hand to hear her probably never- to- be rivalled singing of the part. More than simply an historical document of the work's original production, and important for that, this recording vibrates with love for the work, its' beauty and charm." Report Abuse
 back again, thank goodness! December 16, 2014 By A. Ames See All My Reviews "IMHO: one of the greatest American operas, based on a true story and recorded during its debut run at the old New York City Opera, when Beverly Sills (bless her!) was very young indeed. For me, no one will equal Sills's singing of Baby Doe's heart-breaking final aria -- "Always through the changing of sun and shadow, time and space, I shall stay beside my love, in a green and quiet place". If you love this opera, or are a Sills fan and might need another copy, by all means, order this re-release, because you can't count on its coming around again!" Report Abuse
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