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Gilbert & Sullivan: Pirates Of Penzance / Thompson, Ohio Light Opera

Gilbert / Sullivan / Ohio Light Opera / Thompson
Release Date: 12/13/2011 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1331  
Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
Conductor:  J. Lynn Thompson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera ChorusOhio Light Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SULLIVAN The Pirates of Penzance J. Lynn Thompson, cond; Stephen Faulk ( Frederic ); Karla Hughes ( Mabel ); Ted Christopher ( Sergeant ); Gary Moss ( Pirate King ); Nicholas Wuehrmann ( Major-General Stanley ); Jaqueline Kress ( Ruth ); Ohio Light Op Ch and Read more O ALBANY (2 CDs:105:55) &

The last Ohio Light Opera Gilbert and Sullivan recording that I encountered was an uneven Patience from 2010. This Pirates of Penzance is much better. It’s a well-rehearsed, well-cast performance that includes all of the dialog, delivered well by Americans with English accents. Albany doesn’t say whether this is a live or studio recording. There’s no audible laughter or applause, yet it has the feel of a live performance. In any case, the recorded sound is fine.

If Karla Hughes’s coloratura lacks the Violetta-like perfection that one hopes for—in my personal contest of recordings of Mabel’s entrance aria, Valerie Masterson’s pure warbling won—she’s not far off, and her performance has the right energy and inclinations. After an awkward start in his opening dialog, Stephen Faulk is an outstanding Frederic. He has an unforced and quite beautiful lyric tenor voice, and phrases well. In act II, the arrival of bass Ted Christopher is a happy one indeed. As the Sergeant of Police, delivered with an authoritative Cockney accent, he not only possesses the cast’s richest voice but also the best comic timing. There are no weak links in the cast, though Nicholas Wuehrmann tries a little too hard as Major General Stanley; a more deadpan approach can be funnier.

This is a recommendable Pirates. It could serve well as a listener’s introduction to Sullivan’s fresh, memorable melodies and Gilbert’s dialog, which is still funny, though less as pointed satire than just plain silliness. J. Lynn Thomson’s tempos for every number are well chosen. The Ohio Light Opera’s performers sound more engaged than their better-known counterparts in Charles Mackerras’s better-played and conducted Pirates on Telarc, which omits the overture and the dialog. The 1968 D’Oyly Carte recording, including dialog, with Masterson, Owen Brannigan, and John Reed is an ideal Pirates , though Malcolm Sargent’s lively 1931 D’Oyly Carte version, with its older style of singing, is even more enjoyable.

FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan
Conductor:  J. Lynn Thompson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera Chorus,  Ohio Light Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; England 

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