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Pacific Overtures (1987 English National Opera Cast)


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Audio CD, May 16, 1989
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1. Pacific Overatures: Prologue
2. Pacific Overatures: The Advantages OF Floating In The Middle Of The Sea
3. Pacific Overatures: There Is No Other Way (Tamate's Dance)
4. Pacific Overatures: Four Black Dragons
5. Pacific Overatures: Chrysanthemum Tea
6. Pacific Overatures: Poems
7. Pacific Overatures: Welcome To Kanagawa
8. Pacific Overatures: Someone In A Tree
9. Pacific Overatures: Please Hello
10. Pacific Overatures: A Bowler Hat
11. Pacific Overatures: Pretty Lady
12. Pacific Overatures: Next

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 16, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rca Records/Sbme
  • ASIN: B000003ESS
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,229 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 26, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Pacific Overtures" is the political euphemism used by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 when Japan was persuaded to open up trade relations because of the display of naval power put on by the United States. The clash of cultures as the "Floating Kingdom" was forced to end centuries of enforced isolation is the subject of this unique musical, which dramatizes Perry's expedition to Japan. The original Broadway cast of "Pacific Overtures" was entirely Asian or Asian-American. It is this casting commitment that makes "Pacific Overtures" a rare musical to see in performance, which is a shame because of not only its presentation of history but because of its imaginative use of Kabuki.
You might recall the controversy on Broadway when Jonathan Pryce came over from England to play the Engineer in the Broadway production of "Miss Saigon." Pryce had created the role in England but there were complaints about an occidental playing an oriental (althought the character was half-French). So while I was rather surprised to discover this non-Asian cast recording of "Pacific Overtures," I realized it was understandable, not only because the British place less emphasis on such things but also because this is English National Opera cast. In opera it is the voice that matters and not appearances, which is why you end up with singers the size of offensive linemen who are twice the age of their characters.
On the one hand I find it very commendable that this show was produced in England, since the casting requirements make it difficult if not impossible to perform in most places. But if you want a CD by which to remember the show you should purchase the original Broadway cast album and enjoy the original performances (especially Mako as the Reciter).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By spacedog on December 20, 2001
Format: Audio CD
this is a fantastic show with many standout songs. i prefer this recording to the OBC recording b/c i really believe that the lyrical score falls naturally into the operatic realm and that broadway singers don't generally have the vocal power to do it justice. i usually don't prefer opera singers in broadway shows, but i think that in this case it works extremely well, with the long, lyrical lines of songs like, "is there no other way" and "poems" really benefitting from the stronger voices.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is not the real thing. This was a production by English National opera with opera voices not show voices. It doesn't even begin to sound right. For an ignored work, the ENO production appeared oddly soon after the excellent provincial production at Wythenshawe Forum in south Manchester, UK. Were ENO influenced in their choice by the Manchester show? It seemed so at the time and the ENO production was a very pale evening by comparison. This CD shows why! Avoid. The Original Broadway cast recording is the best going, though it's not at all perfect. Why is this excellent work, full of terrific music and visuals, so ignored?? Too expensive to stage?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on October 4, 2008
Format: Audio CD
You would have a hard time trying to be convinced "Pacific Overtures" is a masterpiece from this recording; The 1976 OBC album in its perfection even struggles to convince some what I consider one of Sondheim's top three shows (along with Sweeney and Sunday).

Despite being fully orchestrated (the achilles heel of the 2004 revival recording), this production of Pacific Overtures falls flat in that at times it can be just plain boring, mostly because the operatic baritones get quite monotonous in both their singing and acting; I just can't 'suspend disbelief' and believe what Sondheim and book writer John Weidman want us to see in the characters.

That being said, in moderation, this album is an interesting listen if you feel the definitive OBC or supplementary 2004 revival performances are getting a little tired - but its relevance remains in its completeness. This recording includes almost every bit of dialogue and background music performed in the show making it a good way to get an idea of what the show is about without having to read the entire libretto (although a complete video recording of the OBC is now uploaded to YouTube so even this redeeming quality is becoming redundant).

So, if you've never experienced Pacific Overtures before stay away from this recording; buy the 1976 album and watch the OBC on YouTube; if you're looking for a supplementary album go for the 2004 Revival cast; if you want to complete your "Pacific Overtures" collection then, and only then, should you buy this album.
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