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Moore / LaTouche: The Ballad of Baby Doe Original recording remastered

31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, April 20, 1999
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$60.00
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Despite its somewhat Disneyesque title, The Ballad of Baby Doe is one of the sturdiest American operas. Its riches-to-rags story of Colorado miner Horace Tabor has a great plot, excellent characters, real arias, and dynamic chorus scenes, and none of it sounds second hand in the least. The opera has an extremely inviting personality of its own. This recording by the New York City Opera is full of crackling fast tempos from conductor Emerson Buckley and great theatricality: right down to the minor characters, everybody knows what they're about. Beverly Sills, Walter Cassel, and Frances Bible all inhabit their roles completely. The one drawback is the recording quality, which is good to voices but mushy on the orchestra. To know what's really going on in the piece musically, one must hear the similarly well-sung but more relaxed 1996 recording made at the venue where the opera was premiered: Central City Opera in Colorado. --David Patrick Stearns

Disc: 1
1. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene One - Opening
2. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene One - 'It's A Bang-Up Job' (Tabor)
3. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene One - 'Horace, What Is This?' (Augusta)
4. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene One - 'I Beg Your Pardon' (Baby Doe)
5. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene Two - 'What A Lovely Evening'
6. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene Two - 'Willow, Where We Met Together' (Willow Song) (Baby Doe)
7. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene Two - 'Oh, Mr. Tabor!' (Baby Doe)
8. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene Two - 'Warm As The Autumn Light' (Tabor)
9. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene Three - 'Now, Where Do You Suppose?' (Augusta)
10. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Act One: Scene Three - 'Have You Seen Her?' (Augusta)
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: Opening
2. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'The Fine Ladies' (Baby Doe)
3. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'Mama, Go Inside!' (Baby Doe)
4. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'Augusta, What Are You Doing Here?' (Tabor)
5. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'I'll Raise You'
6. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'Turn Tail And Run!' (Tabor)
7. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'La, La, La, La'
8. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'Good People Of Leadville'
9. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'Extra! Extra!'
10. The Ballad Of Baby Doe: 'Augusta! Augusta!' (Augusta)
See all 15 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Performer: Beverly Sills, Frances Bible, Walter Cassel
  • Orchestra: New York City Opera Orchestra
  • Conductor: Emerson Buckley
  • Composer: Douglas S. Moore, John LaTouche
  • Audio CD (April 20, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00000IPTU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,139 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By KenRKing on January 5, 2000
... and not just with Sills, but with a fine American opera as well. This is one recording which Sills fans have demanded be reissued for years. She's in glorious form here and in radiant voice throughout, (her high D natural in the "Willow Song" will knock your socks off), and the moving final scene could bring a rock to tears. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent, and though it is 30 years old now, the engineers have made this recording sound fresh and new again. This was the recording that made me fall in love with Sills many years ago, and led me to explore other operas as she recorded them. I hope that people (especially younger people) who may be put off by opera as an "alien" art form will give this set a try and listen to how wonderful a "show" this is. My money says it will lead newbies to other American classics such as Barber's "Vanessa"--but the big bucks says Sills will win you over from her entrance scene, and the effect of her dramatic characterization and beautifully unaffected singing will stay with you long after the opera's stunning final scene. This release proves once more why "Bubbles" is a national treasure!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gapare Pacchierrotti on January 6, 2000
I fell in love with this opera through this recording. I have another which claims to be the original cast ( for those who don't know, Beverly didn't create the role ), and as fine as it is, this one stole my heart.
The impersonation are wonderful, and you really feel that the singers actually identify with the real historical characters on which the opera is based. This isn't just a rags to riches story, but a rags to riches to rags story. Moore's music is simply wondrous, and unlike so many English operas where the music seems at odds with the words, or extremely artificial, the words and music work perfectly with each other. I have to agree that the newer version has a better reproduction of the orchestra, but the singers are nowhere near as involved with making believable characters out of the story. This cast is one of those miracle casts that so seldom show up. Each piece is so moving and I found myself in awe from the beginning of the Willow Song clear to the lullaby that ends the opera. This later piece will leave you in tears. If one has never experienced American Opera, start with this wonderful work. It is far more delightful and melodious than Barber's Vanessa, or his Anthony and Cleopatra. Moore also wrote other works that are every bit as lovely as this. It is a super buy!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Listening to this recording again, I think back on the many wonderful roles that Beverly Sills performed/recorded...Manon, Violetta, the Donizetti heroines....but this is a "must-have" recording for opera fans. She truly owns the role, and the cohesivenss of the original production comes through very clearly. Supposedly the composer auditioned many, many sopranos for this role and after hearing Sills exclaimed "I have found my Baby Doe." When we lost her to cancer earlier this year, we lost a brilliant singer, a prima donna for the people, and a humanitarian--she used her stardom to support causes such as infantile autism, multiple sclerosis, and the education of the hearing impaired. She will be greatly missed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By William Birner on August 8, 1999
I just recently stumbled on this re-release on CD. What a find. I had the fabulous fortune to work on two university theatre/music department productions of this work first as a theatre grad student in 1960 and later as a faculty designer in 1965 and to talk with Mr. Moore who visited with us at the '65 production. In between and later I got to see Central City (but not the production). Over the decades I have treasured and pampered my original LP set of this recording. Now I can listen with greater freedom. 1960 was my first discovery of Miss Sills. It also clinched my love of the Romantic in theatre, music and literature. Baby Doe is a great emotional story and Moore and Latouche captured the epic earthiness, foibles, tempo of it. For me it will always remain a great moment in musical theatre. If grand opera could do what this work has done for its audiences it would be more popular even in the U. S. As other have noted here, this recording is not an audiophile's modern dream. These older ears no longer care, as it is as mellow and rich as any listening experience of this work would want and at least allows clear focus on the voices of Sills, Cassel and Bible. It should be in the collection of everyone who cares about American Music and Theatre. The three lead artists are masterful in their portrayals and musically just right - indeed theatrically just right as well. More accessible than even Porgy in my mind, along with Gershwin's work it still moves me with its power as well as its beauty. As someone who never heard Baby Doe before seeing it performed, it is hard to guess at its impact on the "virginal" home listener. I would urge careful follow of the libretto and a wide sweep to the visual imagination as one listens to it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1999
Fans of American opera and Beverly Sills have long dreamed of this great recording being reissued, and here at last it is: perhaps the most famous of American operas, and certainly one of Sills' finest showpieces. Although the music's melange of nineteenth-century American styles does not seem quite so fresh and startling as it did when the opera premiered in the Fifties, it still has some wonderful numbers that almost every opera fan knows (such as the Willow Song, the Letter aria, and "Warm as the autumn light"), and a superior libretto. Frances Bible is a terrific Augusta, perhaps the most difficult role in the show, and she is both frightening in her wrath at "Cold? Am I cold?," as well as very moving in her final soliloquy. Walter Cassel is also a fine Horace, but the honors really go to Sills, who of course owns for all time the role of Baby Doe. Although she does fine work with the florid Silver aria and Willow Song, she is perhaps even better in her quiter numbers, such as "I knew it was wrong" and the great final aria.
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