- Valerie Masterson, Martin Smith
and Rosemary Ashe; New Sadler's Wells Opera Chorus and Orchestra
/ Michael Reed.
- This is &SHY; almost &SHY; the
best recording one can imagine being made of Noël Coward's
1929 operetta. It has a fine chorus, also effective in their
spoken lines, highly polished orchestral playing and a handsome
set of new orchestrations from the conductor Michael Reed, captured
in opulent sound. Valerie Masterson heads the cast with her clear
strong voice heard to thrilling effect from the opening "Call
of life" through to "Zigeuner", the Gipsy song
in Act 3, on which she lavishes a wide palette of tone colour.
Outside the principal numbers, Coward never really managed to
put his stamp on the operatic idiom &SHY; even if a score like
Phantom of the Opera is not to everyone's taste, it is not possible
to remain indifferent to it as happens in Bitter Sweet's sometimes
vague invocations to the past.