At a time when digital recording was in its infancy and there was a vogue for having opera singers "cross over" to pop by making albums of Broadway show music, conductor John Mauceri, a master of the crossover field, undertook this "DDD" (digitally recorded, mixed, and mastered) studio cast version of Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady with Kiri Te Kanawa in the leading role of "flower girl turned lady" Eliza Doolittle and well-respected British actor Jeremy Irons opposite her as the chauvinistic elocutionist Henry Higgins, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. Among the supporting performers were the venerable British actor John Gielgud as Higgins' friend Colonel Pickering and tenor Jerry Hadley as Eliza's paramour, Freddy Eynsford-Hill. The chief attributes of the recording are the various additions to the score (as compared to the original Broadway and London cast LPs and the original soundtrack album), possible due to the increased length of 70 minutes, and Irons' spirited performance. Unlike Rex Harrison, who talked his way through the stage and film productions, Irons introduces a certain limited amount of singing here and there, and he manages to come up with his own independent interpretation of the part, which is somewhat more emotional and less authoritarian than Harrison, but is still true to the character. Conscious that this is a purely audio interpretation, he projects more than he might if on-stage, but in such an oversized part, that works fine. Gielgud hasn't got much to do, but does what he has well; Hadley sings his big song, "On the Street Where You Live," with verve; and Warren Mitchell, as Eliza's father, is suitably roughhewn in his songs, "With a Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time." The recording's only real disappointment is Te Kanawa, who, despite an accent coach, manages to get her interpretation backwards. She sounds like she's faking it when she speaks and sings in a Cockney accent, and only seems at home after Eliza has learned to pretend to be upper class; of course, it should be the other way around.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann