This single-disc title contains excepts from three vintage radio transcriptions featuring the beautiful operatic soprano Jeanette MacDonald. By the mid-'40s, the actress/vocalist was into her second decade as a star of stage, screen, and radio. Although she had considerable talents on her own, MacDonald achieved superstar status in 1935 when cast alongside then-unknown baritone Nelson Eddy (vocals) in the MGM reworking of Victor Herbert's operetta Naughty Marietta. The chemistry between the two catapulted both into the realm of "America's Singing Sweethearts" and the pair created over a half-dozen feature films between 1935-1940 under the respective direction of W. S. "Woody" Van Dyke II and Robert Z. Leonard. The World War II-era broadcasts included on this volume hail from the United States Armed Forces Radio Service series: "Music America Loves Best" and "Command Performance." Chronologically, MacDonald's signature song, "Indian Love Call," from a July 1943 broadcast of "Command Performance," leads the pack with a sterling reading, albeit without Eddy. With accompaniment by the Meredith Willson orchestra, the vocalist turns in a seemingly effortless, lilting, and affective lead. The modern listener may initially find a certain degree of novelty in her operatic warble; however, MacDonald's pitch is undeniably crystalline and equal only to the purity of her intonations. This collection begins with several performances from a November 1944 appearance on "Music America Loves Best." Along with Jay Blackton's orchestra, MacDonald is joined by Thomas L. Thomas (vocals) on selections taken from her motion pictures. From Naughty Marietta, Thomas presents an updated version of the Civil War-era folk song "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp." This is followed by a beautiful re-creation of MacDonald's character Moonyean Clare in the wartime drama Smilin' Through (1941). From the film Sweethearts (1938) comes a pair of tunes commencing with the MacDonald solo "Summer Serenade." The title theme is a powerful duet highlighting the underrated and all-but-forgotten Thomas. It also reflects the intimacy in MacDonald's openness and ability to give and take with a dramatic quality, derived no doubt from her decades as an accomplished stage and silver screen actress. The final number is a solo vocal of the mysterious and dark traditional Irish "Annie Laurie." MacDonald returned to the "Music America Loves Best" microphones in early June of 1945. The program contains three solo vocals: "It Doesn't Cost You Anything to Dream" from the stage presentation of Up in Central Park, as well as a stirring rendition of "Vilia" from The Merry Widow and an appropriately rousing and obviously heartfelt "Glory, Glory Hallelujah" (aka "Battle Hymn of the Republic") that prominently features the Lou Bring Chorus.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
|Rose Marie, operetta|
|Up in Central Park, musical play|