The 1961 D'Oyly Carte Cox and Box
New Symphony Orchestra of London
Decca 473 656-2
Cox and Box, a "triumviretta" Sullivan wrote with librettist F. C. Burnand as merely a piece of fun to entertain his friends, was the only non-Gilbert opera in the D'Oyly Carte repertory. It was performed in virtually every season after 1921, except during the war years and in the last few seasons of the Company's existence, when budgetary problems forced numerous operas out of the repertory.
Despite its popularity, the opera had to wait until 1961 to appear on disc (though D'Oyly Carte considered it far earlier than that). Strong as this recording is, it might not have been done at all, except that D'Oyly Carte recorded a Gondoliers in 1961 with complete dialogue that took up five record sides. Cox & Box was the sixth.
This is a recording of the so-called Savoy version, which cuts the opera down from an hour to about thirty minutes, thus making it a suitable curtain-raiser for other operas. It has considerably more verve and sparkle than D'Oyly Carte's second recording, from 1978. The two Carte recordings are textually identical, except that the later set includes Sullivan's sung finale, while this recording replaces it with some dialogue uttered over string tremolos.
The recording has been re-issued on CD coupled with the 1962 Ruddigore. The first batch of CDs to hit the stores actually included the 1978 recording by mistake. Decca later admitted that somebody had pulled the wrong master tapes from cold storage, and the CDs got all the way through manufacturing and distribution before the error was noticed. Since the mistake was corrected relatively quickly, very few of the erroneous sets exist. Interestingly, the track timings in the liner notes still reflect the 1978 recording--including that of the finale, which was included in 1978 but excluded in 1961.
|1961||Decca||Mono LP||LK 4402/4
|With 1961 Gondoliers The Decca catalog numbers containing 'A' are Australian pressings.|
|Stereo LP||SKL 4138/40|
|London||Stereo LP||OSA 1323|
|Mono LP||A 4351|
|1986||Decca||Stereo LP||417 355-1||Digitally remastered. With 1962 Ruddigore|
|2003||Decca||CD||473 631-2||24-CD set including the complete Decca G&S series on CD (13 G&S operas, plus Cox and Box and The Zoo)|