Franz Lehár's operetta The Merry Widow inspired many recordings following its 1905 opening in Vienna and its 1907 opening on Broadway. But there was no album-length collection of its songs until 1943, when Decca Records undertook a studio cast-recorded set of six 78s (later transferred to LP, of course). Kitty Carlisle, an accomplished operetta singer with marriage to playwright Moss Hart and fame on TV's To Tell the Truth still in her future, appeared in a production at the Boston Opera House in 1943, and she used the resulting favorable notices to interest Decca head Jack Kapp in a disc version. He added Wilbur Evans (of both the Boston and a 1942 New York mounting), Lisette Verea (who had just been in a 1943 New York production), and Felix Knight. All are in excellent voice, particularly the underrated Carlisle, who had bounced from Broadway to Hollywood to nightclubs, but whose true métier was operetta. The 36-minute, 12-track recording was brief and primitively recorded by later standards, but it can claim landmark status among recordings of The Merry Widow.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann