The 1976 D'Oyly Carte Utopia, Limited
D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus
Recorded at Decca Studios, West Hampstead
Rear cover of Decca SKL-5225/6, showing Pamela Field as Princess Zara and Meston Reid as Captain Fitzbattleaxe in the D'Oyly Carte 1975 revival. The London and Decca issues had the same front cover, shown above, but this rear cover was seen only on the Decca LP issue.
In 1975, in celebration of the D'Oyly Carte centenary, the Company mounted a new production of Utopia, Limited, a work that had been out of the repertory since the early 1900s. Incomprehensibly, only one performance of this production was scheduled (on Friday 4th April 1975), and the Company was shocked to discover that people were lining up by the thousands for tickets. Four more performances were arranged for later that year, at the Royal Festival Hall, in July. And then, to the dismay of virtually everyone, the opera was dropped.
This recording was made shortly after that 1975 production. Although the stage performances had cuts, the recording is musically complete and even includes some snatches of dialogue in Act II. It is surely no surprise that there have probably been more productions of this opera since 1976 than in the entire three-quarters of a century before. The recording transformed the opera from an obscure abstraction to something real.
Decca 473 662-2
Since Sullivan's overture is insubstantial (little more than a preview of the Act II Drawing Room music), the recording also included Sullivan's Imperial March, which he wrote at about the same time and which seems to fit the spirit of the opera. The CD re-issue includes Sullivan's Victoria and Merrie England Suite No. 1 and his Marmion and Macbeth overtures.
James Tappin mentioned that, on his copy of the original LP issue, there is a note saying that it is available "on cassette and cartridge." The latter would appear to refer to eight-track tape (a format that was on its last legs in 1976). If this recording did come out in that format, the bibliographic details for it have not yet come to my attention.
|1976||Decca||Stereo LP||SKL 5225/6||Includes Imperial March|
|1984||Decca||Stereo LP||414 359-1||Digitally remastered; includes Imperial March|
|ca. 1977||World Record Club||Stereo LP||R 03295-6|
|ca. 1979||Decca||Cassette||K2C 17||Australian issue|
|1993||Decca/London||CD||436 816-2||Includes Imperial March, Victoria and Merrie England, Suite No. 1, Macbeth overture, and Marmion overture|
|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).|