Recordings of Princess Ida

Background | Recordings


Ida Poster
Contemporary Poster for Princess Ida

Princess Ida has suffered somewhat in the recording studio. There are four musically-complete commercial recordings, all by D'Oyly Carte, each of which has significant liabilities. Fans will argue about which Ida is best; there is no clear recommendation.

The 1924 recording is extremely important historically. It was made just after the opera was revived in London for the first time, it is one of Henry Lytton's few recordings, and it is only one to include "Come, mighty must." There are three recent CD re-issues.

The 1932 recording is my personal favorite from among the four. Malcolm Sargent takes somewhat brisker tempi than he would later in life, and the singers bring great enthusiasm to their roles. Sound quality is excellent for the period, and there is a CD re-issue. However, the decline in Lytton's interpretive powers is rather noticeable, and not all listeners share my view on the individual performances.

The 1955 recording features the worst performance in the title role. Victoria Sladen's interpretation is almost painful to the ears. However, in all the other roles, the performances are excellent, and many people feel that Isidore Godfrey got the tempi just right. This recording is not available on CD, but the LP versions can be found second-hand.

The 1965 recording is the only modern choice on CD. Elizabeth Harwood's Ida, though miles ahead of Victoria Sladen's in 1955, still leaves much to be desired, and Sir Malcolm Sargent's tempi are almost comically slow in patches. Chris Webster has contributed a page comparing the track timings for the latter three recordings, as a point of objective comparison.

On video, the Brent Walker production has many fans (though I think it's terrible). Two radio productions are listed, though neither of these is available commercially. See also Michael Walters's superb and extraordinarily detailed review of all the Ida recordings.


***** 1924 D'Oyly Carte Acou 78 LP CD
**** 1932 D'Oyly Carte Elec 78 LP Cass CD
*** 1955 D'Oyly Carte Mono LP Cass CD
** 1965 D'Oyly Carte Ster LP reel Cass CD
NR 1966 BBC Dial Radio
** 1982 Brent Walker Productions Dial TV VCass DVD
NR 1989 BBC Dial Radio
**** 2000 Ohio Light Opera Dig Dial CD