The Lyric Theater Company Utopia, Limited (1963)
Chorus and Orchestra of the
1963 Record Label
This was the first complete recording of Utopia, Limited. It came on three LPs and included all the dialogue. The producer, Peter Kline (who also plays King Paramount), is well known as author of the book Gilbert and Sullivan Production (Richards Rosen Press: New York, 1972).
This recording was originally issued in 1964 on a private label. It was picked up by Pearl in the early '70s. Michael Walters pointed out that "the Pearl 'reissue' is not in fact a straight reissue of the Lyric discs. It was remastered and reedited from the original tapes, and in some cases uses different 'takes' for certain sections."
The performers on the recording are all capable amateurs, but they are not sufficiently entertaining to hold one's attention for six LP sides. While one commends Pearl for the commitment to issue such an obscure opera with complete dialogue, the set might well have been more enjoyable if it included the music only.
Indeed, the musical standard is probably the set's strength. Conductor John Landis not only has a strong affinity for the material, but also contributed a good deal of ground-breaking research into the musical text. (See his original liner notes.)
This was the Lyric Theater Company's second Utopia recording; the same group put out a two-LP recording of musical numbers only, with some cuts, based on a 1957 production. They followed it up with this recording, and after it was a popular sell-out, went on to record The Mountebanks and The Grand Duke.
With a D'Oyly Carte recording of the opera now on the market, the Lyric Theater recording is less important than it was when originally issued. Many listeners, however, may appreciate the charms of a live and dialogue-complete recording to the D'Oyly Carte's musically accurate, but leaden and often lifeless set. A CD re-issue is likely in the near future.
Original Liner Notes of this Recording
|1964||Lyric Theatre||Mono LP||R4RM 4953||3 LP set|
|ca. 1975||Pearl||Stereo LP||SHEZ 505/7|
|1977?||Pearl||Stereo LP||SHE 529||1 LP, comprising highlights of the above|