It's two-for-one time at Decca Broadway. The label, which boasts the largest cast-album library in the country, is releasing eight classic operettas, two on each of four CDs.
Two of the recordings were released July 30: The Desert Song and New Moon on one CD and Babes in Toyland and Red Mill and on the other. Come Aug. 27, Decca will release two more discs: one featuring Roberta and The Vagabond King and the other with The Merry Widow and The Student Prince.
Both The Desert Song and The New Moon feature a score by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II; Otto Harbach joined Hammerstein for lyrics on Desert Song, which boasted a cast that included Kitty Carlisle Hart, Wilbur Evans and Felix Knight. The New Moon featured Thomas Hayward, Jane Wilson, Lee Sweetland and such songs as "Stouthearted Men" and "Lover, Come Back to Me."
Victor Herbert composed the music for both Babes in Toyland and The Red Mill, which featured lyrics by, respectively, Glen Mac Donough and Henry Blossom. Kenny Baker and Karen Kimple headed the cast of Babes in Toyland, and renowned soprano Eileen Farrell joined Wilbur Evans and Felix Knight for The Red Mill.
Both Roberta and The Vagabond King feature Alfred Drake, who starred in Kismet and Oklahoma! Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach composed Roberta's score, which boasts such standards as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Yesterdays" and "Lovely to Look At." Rudolf Frimel's The Vagabond King co-stars Mimi Benzell and Frances Bible. "Vilia," "Merry Widow Waltz," "Maxim's" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" are just some of the tunes to be found in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow, which stars the legendary Kitty Carlisle Hart. Sigmund Romberg's The Student Prince — with great Danish heldentenor Lauritz Melchior — features conductor Victor Young.
Other titles recently released on the Decca Broadway label include the 1963 London cast recording of The Boys From Syracuse and the Tony Award-winning musical Two Gentlemen of Verona.
—By Andrew Gans