- Ruddigore (The Witch's Curse), operetta
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The recording of Ohio Light Opera's 2009 production of "Ruddigore" is of special interest because it includes the spoken dialogue and because of the quality of several of the soloists' performances. The inclusion of the dialogue is always risky when non-British performers are involved, but the actors here pull it off admirably, and in several cases, with real panache and giddy humor. Generally, the dialogue is more consistently delivered than the singing, which is always at least adequate, but of variable quality. There are very fine performances by Gilbert and Sullivan veteran baritone Frederick Reeder, and capable newcomers, mezzo-soprano Sahara Glasener-Boles, baritone Ted Christopher, and soprano Cecily Ellis. Michael Borowitz's frequently sluggish conducting misses the fun of the variety of moods that Sullivan's score offers and doesn't provide the drama it requires. He is hampered (as Ohio Light Opera recordings tend to be) by having a reduced string section to work with, which sounds feeble and causes balance problems with the winds. The thin sound and occasionally dubious intonation of the strings are especially problematic in "Ruddigore," which contains some of the darkest and most menacing music Sullivan wrote, and which should sound grandly dramatic. The size of the chorus also diminishes the impact of the opera, especially the ghosts' splendid music of the second act, "Painted emblems of a race," and "When the night wind howls," which should be threateningly sinister, but comes across as merely puny. The set's strongest appeal should be to Gilbert and Sullivan fans who want the dialogue along with the music, but overall, musically, it is no substitute for the excellent 1987 New Sadler's Wells recording or even the 1962 D'Oyly Carte version.