For many years, the only piece that most opera lovers knew from Lakme was the Bell song. When British Airways introduced a new advertisment using the Act 1 duet between Lakme and Malika, the opera gained a new audience. The reissue of highlights from this 1967 recording with Joan Sutherland in the title role is an excellent way for the average listener to get these two wonderful highlights, as well as some other wonderful music, without the expense of the full recording. The Bell song rings forth with force of Big Ben rather than the tinkles of Lily Pons or Mady Mesple. The French language demands more pointed diction than Sutherland offers but she does sing with great beauty. In the famous duet, Sutherland displays a wonderful sense of legato and Jane Berbie, as Malika, sings as well as she ever did on recordings. Alain Vanzo is the lover, Gerald, and sings his famous "Fantasie" very well. Gabriel Bacquier is properly villainous as Nilakantha. The shorter roles ware well taken, especially Monica Sinclair as Miss Bentson. The Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra and Chorus are under the very able direction of Richard Bonynge. Bonynge has always had a flair for French opera which sometimes eluded his Italian work. An excellent buy for anyone wanting to get to know the most important music from Lakme without having to buy the complete opera.
AllMusic Review by Richard LeSueur