1944 Studio Cast / 1953 Studio Cast

The Desert Song; New Moon

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This CD reissue combines two studio-cast recordings of 1920s operettas composed by Sigmund Romberg that were made decades after the original stage productions. Decca Records pioneered the original Broadway cast album with its successful release of recordings from Oklahoma! in 1943, and it was only a short time before the label was also re-creating older musicals in the studio. One of the earliest such sessions, recorded in March 1944, combined Kitty Carlisle, Wilbur Evans (then appearing on Broadway in Cole Porter's Mexican Hayride), and Felix Knight in a set of songs from the 1926 show The Desert Song. The intention may have been to take advantage of the just-released film adaptation starring Dennis Morgan, though the album wasn't released for 18 months. When it did appear, however, it was the most complete version of the score yet issued and proved very well sung. Decca had less of an excuse for recording a studio version of the 1928 show The New Moon in 1953, perhaps just the show's 25th anniversary. But all its rivals -- Columbia, RCA Victor, and Capitol -- had their own studio-cast recordings in print, while an earlier Decca one made in 1940 may have seemed in need of replacing for the LP era. The cast of Thomas Hayward, Jane Wilson, and Lee Sweetland was not particularly distinguished, and while adequate, didn't really compare with the 1950 ones with Gordon MacRae on Capitol, and with Nelson Eddy on Columbia. Though the two Decca albums went out of print in the '50s, they have been subject to gray-market reissues, and half a century later, Decca Broadway is wise to bring them back in this legitimate reissue. The sound has been spiffed up considerably, and there is no comparison between this disc and the ones operetta fans have tolerated on CD until now. The 1995 album on Box Office Recordings combining The Desert Song with another Decca studio-cast album featuring Kitty Carlisle, The Merry Widow, is so sonically inferior it sounds like a different recording. The present reissue makes for a welcome and overdue re-addition to the ranks of operettas on record.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Desert Song, operetta
1 2:37
2 3:11
The Desert Song
3 2:55
The Desert Song, operetta
4 2:36
The Desert Song
5 3:15
The Desert Song, operetta
6 2:57
The Desert Song
7 3:04
The Desert Song, operetta
8 3:03
The Desert Song
9 2:57
The Desert Song, operetta
10 2:47
The New Moon, operetta
11 3:24
12 2:58
feat: Janet Wilson
14 3:15
15 2:53
feat: Janet Wilson
feat: Janet Wilson
feat: Janet Wilson
blue highlight denotes track pick