Kismet (1991 Studio Cast)
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Kismet: A Musical Arabian Night (Studio Cast Recording (1991))
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Listening to this high-powered 1991 studio recording may forever spoil your enjoyment of the mostly tepid voices in the 1955 movie version of Kismet. Producer Thomas Shepard and music director Paul Gemignani enlisted some of opera's best voices to record this quite operatic musical, called "a musical Arabian night" and based on the themes of 19th-century Russian composer Alexander Borodin. Samuel Ramey is a bit turgid as the Poet. Luckily, Julia Migenes as Lalume is sensational and Jerry Hadley as the Caliph and Ruth Ann Swenson as Marsinah are simply glorious. Less successful are a hysterical Mandy Patinkin (in only one number) and a braying Dom Deluise (in a vocally undemanding role as the Wazir). Thankfully, the singers are at their best in the most challenging numbers, which include some all-time favorites: "Stranger in Paradise," "Not Since Nineveh," "Baubles, Bangles, and Beads," "And This Is My Beloved," and "Night of My Nights." This CD clocks in at a generous 68 minutes, but you'll probably find yourself listening to the "hits" over and over. The same cast also recorded Man of La Mancha with Placido Domingo. Full lyrics are included. --David Horiuchi
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language: : English
- Product Dimensions : 5.62 x 4.92 x 0.33 inches; 3.84 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Sony Broadway
- Original Release Date : 1991
- Run time : 1 hour and 8 minutes
- Date First Available : November 18, 2006
- Label : Sony Broadway
- ASIN : B00000279M
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #239,616 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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While everyone needs at least one of the Alfred Drake recordings, this one is excellent and I highly recommend it. Most opera singers sound too 'operatic' when singing lighter material, but with the exception of Jerry Hadley, that's not the case here. Samuel Ramey sings and acts the role marvelously and Johnson and Swenson are excellent too. Hadley sounds great but too operatic for my taste.
"Stranger in Paradise," sung by Hadley & Ruth Ann Swenson, is so ravishingly beautiful that it will bring tears to your eyes. That moment alone is worth the price of this album. Additionally, Hadley's "Night of My Nights" will absolutely give you goose bumps. In fact, I doubt if there has ever been a better sung "Caliph" anywhere. Listen to the way he pops off high A-flats & B-flats. Wow!
Ruth Ann Swenson is a lovely "Marsinah," although she doesn't seem as comfortable in the role as either Doretta Morrow on the 1953 Original Cast recording or Lee Venora in the 1965 Lincoln Center Revival. Julia Migenes (Have you seen her CARMEN?) is in great voice as "Lalume," playing her more subtly than either Joan Diener or Anne Jeffreys. I prefer broad. Dom DeLuise is a wretched "Wazir" and sticks out like a sore thumb among the trained voices. But most wretched of all is Mandy Patinkin singing "Zubbediya," usually sung by the "Widow Yussef." What was producer Thomas Z. Shepard smoking?
Of course, the overall success of any KISMET depends on the actor/singer who play "Hajj, the Poet," and let's face it, Alfred Drake owns the part. Samuel Ramey has the voice and the looks but, unfortunately, limited acting ability. He sings all the right notes, but appears more concerned with producing a gorgeous tone than with interpreting the song. His best moment is "The Olive Tree."
Paul Gemignani leads the London Symphony Orchestra and the combined forces of the Ambrosian Singers and the Concert Chorale of New York, and how welcome they are in lieu of today's synthesized pit bands and scaled-back corps of singer/dancers. However, at times the shear mass of musicians tends to bog down the show.
In spite of its flaws, this is still a valuable recording and deserves a place in your library along with the 1953 Broadway Cast and the Lincoln Center recording - if Sony/BMG ever gets around to remastering it.