A Song To Sing, O!
The Lamplighters Celebrate Gilbert & Sullivan
The Lamplighters Music Theatre
Baker Peeples and Monroe Kanouse, Conductors
Recorded August 24 & 25, 1996,
The Lamplighters is a community theater group that has specialized in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan since 1952. This delightful disc represents their first foray into the recording studio, and the happy results make one hopeful that it is the first of many.
The disc comprises twenty detached highlights, all but one of which are drawn from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Not since some of the D'Oyly Carte recordings have I felt that an ensemble had embodied the G&S idiom so well. I've never been a fan of highlights discs, but if you must take one to a desert island, "A Song To Sing, O!" is a candidate.
The singers are just a shade below professional caliber, but everything else about the recording is top notch. The cover drawing of the Lord Chancellor dancing across the Golden Gate Bridge at dusk, accompanied by two faires, is one of the cleverest things of its kind. The recording was made at George Lucas's famed Skywalker Ranch, and the acoustic is as perfectly balanced as you'd expect from that establishment. The orchestra play wonderfully.
The only blemish is the number "All is prepared . . . Stay, Frederic, stay," in which some humorless soul changed the punchline to: "And that birthday will not be reached by me for sixty-three years" (not 1940). Besides not scanning particularly well, this amendment ruins one of the funniest lines in all of G&S. The Frederic in this number does not sing especially well, showing that even this Tiffany of groups has trouble finding good tenors.
The last number, "If we shadows have offended," is set to the music of "Eagle high," the unaccompanied chorus from Utopia, Limited, with the words replaced by quotations from The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet. I thought it most appropriate that the group gave their chorus the last word.
The selections are as follows: