This two-fer CD -- which takes advantage of the 50-year limitation on copyrights for recordings in Europe to reissue material originally released by Decca Records without payment or permission -- contains two cast albums featuring Kitty Carlisle. In the years before she became known as a celebrity game-show panelist on To Tell the Truth, Carlisle was a minor actress and operetta singer, and, in the mid-'40s, she was contracted to Decca to record several studio-cast versions of vintage operettas like The Merry Widow. Along the way, Decca also got the idea to resurrect Jerome Kern's 1933 Broadway musical Roberta with its hit songs "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Yesterdays." The show had pre-dated the era when original Broadway cast albums were common, and the belated, studio-only version was excellent; it featured Alfred Drake, the Broadway star of Oklahoma! Song of Norway, on the other hand, really was the 1945 original Broadway cast recording, albeit with Carlisle, who had not appeared in it on-stage, stepping in for the unavailable Irra Petina. The show was based on the life and music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and was something of a throwback to the height of operetta, so Carlisle was once again right at home. While the CD is only semi-legal, at least in American terms, it brings back into print two valuable cast recordings and the packaging is well-done, with liner notes in English, French, and German and good graphics with period photos and sheet-music covers.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
feat: Paula Laurence
feat: Robert Shafer
Track Listing - Disc 2