I first became aware of Carolee Carmello when I saw the original Broadway production of Falsettos. The only recording of the piece is from the Off-Broadway version with Janet Metz playing Cordelia, so it was mostly Metz's performance that lived on for me after the show. What I remembered of Carmello was a gifted comedic actress with unique and commanding stage presence. My impression of her would soon expand, as Carmello is one of the greatest singers in Broadway history.
There really aren't any other voices out there quite like Carolee Carmello's. I suppose the closest comparison might be the great Susan Johnson, original star of The Most Happy Fella, whose abundant mezzo-soprano spun and trilled so effortlessly, but Johnson's voice had an almost operatic, classical quality and Carmello is decidedly a belter. Equally at home starring in Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate and ABBA's Mamma Mia!, Carmello's rangy, muscular instrument is also impressive for its versatility. Despite an extensive and eclectic resume of Broadway shows, Carmello has astonishingly never recorded a solo album — yet! Fortunately for her many fans, her myriad stage credits have yielded a lengthy discography of recordings to treasure.
Click through to read my selections for the essential Carolee Carmello on disc.
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