Conversation Piece [Must Close Saturday]

Conversation Piece [Must Close Saturday]

by Noël Coward
     
 

The 1951 studio cast recording of Noël Coward's 1934 operetta Conversation Piece, made by Columbia Records and released as a two-LP box set, went out of print, and, in Europe, it went out of copyright by the early 2000s, allowing the British label Must Close by Saturday Records to release this unlicensed version on a single 79-minute CD. The musical was not one…  See more details below

Overview

The 1951 studio cast recording of Noël Coward's 1934 operetta Conversation Piece, made by Columbia Records and released as a two-LP box set, went out of print, and, in Europe, it went out of copyright by the early 2000s, allowing the British label Must Close by Saturday Records to release this unlicensed version on a single 79-minute CD. The musical was not one of Coward's more successful. He wrote it for the French star Yvonne Printemps, and, set in England in 1811, it told the story of a penniless French nobleman attempting to marry off his ward to a wealthy British marquis, even though she is secretly in love with him (the penniless French nobleman, that is). Coward himself took the part of the nobleman in the London production that opened on February 16, 1934, and ran 177 performances. (A subsequent Broadway production without him ran 55.) Although there was no formal "original cast" album, HMV Records had members of the cast cut five singles of the songs and dialogue, and those singles were later put together on an LP by the Monmouth Evergreen label. Also, a 1936 radio production has been issued as an album by AEI Records. But the Columbia album is the most complete rendering of the show on record. In fact, it might as well have been a radio play, too, since Coward adapted it to the aural medium, writing explanatory remarks -- in verse, no less -- in between the acted scenes. He recites those remarks himself, and he also again takes the role of the nobleman, speaking in a French accent. And he appropriates to himself a couple of songs originally sung by others; in the stage production, the nobleman did not sing. If Coward doesn't quite dominate this recording, it's because of Metropolitan Opera star Lily Pons, who plays the ward and steals nearly every scene she's in, in addition to singing beautifully, especially the show's standout number, "I'll Follow My Secret Heart." Cathleen Nesbitt and a young Richard Burton (neither of whom sing) are also impressive. Musical theater fans owe a debt of gratitude to Must Close by Saturday Records for bringing the album back into print, even in this form, with a few typos here and there and Adrian Wright's surprisingly hostile liner notes.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/10/2007
Label:
Must Close Saturday
UPC:
5060112530135
catalogNumber:
3039

Tracks

  1. Introduction (Overture)
  2. The scene is laid in Brighton by the sea
  3. Good morning, Rose
  4. Never mind (I'll follow my secret heart)
  5. The Marquis of Sheere
  6. You understand, her happiness is all that matters
  7. I'm afraid it is too late for that
  8. The Regent and his retinue
  9. This over Masculinity (Regency Rakes)
  10. Two English ladies with charming English names
  11. Charming, charming
  12. Dear Little Soldiers
  13. The mother and father of dear lord Sheere
  14. We British are an island race (There's always something fishy about the
  15. Imagine a summer evening if you please
  16. Lord Sheere and his father the Duke pass by
  17. My dear Julia, I thought you were in Spain
  18. Once more the house so modest
  19. English lesson
  20. There's a lady downstairs to see you
  21. Melanie, I wish to apologize (Reprise: I'll follow my secret heart)
  22. The melody that follows
  23. Now that you know (Reprise: Regency Rakes)
  24. Please try to envisage a social occasion
  25. What a charming house
  26. I am glad that you are gay (Aria)
  27. The following scene in the following day
  28. And now for a rather charming scene
  29. I shall remember you always (Nevermore)
  30. Melanie
  31. All comedies must come to an end (Finale)

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