In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Scott Farthing, Sony Masterworks’ Senior Director of Marketing, estimated that the Sony vaults house 80-85% of all [American] cast recordings ever made. Largely built on the combined catalogues of Columbia Records and RCA Victor (and their associated labels), the Masterworks Broadway label has gradually been making that immense library available once again in the digital domain. Masterworks has just announced its summer line-up, and as usual, it’s a varied one!
July 19 sees the reissue of RCA Victor’s 1954 cast recording of one of only two operas ever to win the “Best Musical” citation of the New York Drama Critics Circle. Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Saint of Bleecker Street is also one of the relatively few operas to play The Great White Way. It’s followed on August 23 by the 1962 Off-Broadway Cast Recording of a very fractured fairy tale. Half Past Wednesday starred the late, great Dom DeLuise in one of his breakthrough roles, and is a modern take on the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Finally, on September 20, Divine Hair is reissued. What’s Divine Hair, you might ask? In April of 1971, as Hair was celebrating its third anniversary on Broadway, the Bishop of New York invited the company to participate in a celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a Mass performed in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. At the mass, Hair composer Galt MacDermot premiered a new work entitled Mass in F. Divine Hair captured this once-in-a-lifetime event on RCA.
Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1954 The Saint Of Bleecker Street premiered at The Broadway Theatre, today home to Sister Act, where it ran for 92 performances. Sung in English, the three-act musical drama is set in New York’s Little Italy. It follows young Annina, who suffers the stigmata and hears voices. Her brother Michele, a confirmed atheist, is confronted by his neighbors, who all believe Annina to be the titular saint. Soprano Gabriele Ruggiero starred as Annina and tenor David Poleri as Michele. Thomas Schippers, who won a Tony Award for his musical direction, conducted the recording. The opera won Menotti the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1955 but is largely forgotten today. With any luck, Masterworks’ reissue will rectify this.
Half-Past Wednesday, the Off-Broadway musical from 1962, may be one of the least-expected titles in the series so far. No less an authority than The New York Times hailed its young star Dom DeLuise as “a comic genius” for his performance as the King. Robert Fitch, later the original Rooster in Annie, is also heard on the recording. With music by Robert Colby and lyrics by Robert Colby and Nita Jonas, Half-Past Wednesday opened at the Opheum Theatre (where Stomp continues its long run today) on April 6, 1962. Sean Garrison won a Theatre World Award for his performance. Perhaps to make its cast album more commercially attractive, Half-Past Wednesday was retitled Rumpelstiltskin. But no matter – it quickly vanished into obscurity. The time is ripe to rediscover this album in the best sound yet; like all of the titles in Masterworks’ series, Half-Past Wednesday has been mastered from the original tapes for this reissue.
Hit the jump for the story of Divine Hair, plus the track listings and discographical information for all three shows, and what else to expect from Masterworks Broadway this summer!
The 2009 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival, Hair, returns to Broadway next week on July 5 for a return engagement. The musical made its debut Off-Broadway in 1967, but when it moved uptown under the avant garde direction of Tom O’Horgan, it was an immediate, shocking sensation. It quickly led to a staging in the West End of London plus innumerable touring companies, revivals, international, regional and local productions, and a film version directed by Milos Forman. Hair also stormed the pop charts. The 5th Dimension’s medley of “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” in 1969 topped the charts for six weeks and took home a Grammy for Record of the Year. The Cowsills were almost as lucky with their recording of the title song “Hair,” which climbed to No. 2. The single-named Oliver wasn’t far behind with his rendition of “Good Morning Starshine” which reached No. 3. Unbelievably, that wasn’t it. “Easy to Be Hard” went to No. 4 for Three Dog Night, and across the pond, Nina Simone’s 1968 medley of “Ain’t Got No / I Got Life” reached the Top 5. Hair has received roughly 90 (!) different recordings over the years, including cover albums, studio cast versions, foreign-language albums, collections of cut songs and even a live recording of groovy covers played by the 1969 London house band at the Shaftesbury Theatre! But Divine Hair may be the most unique of all. The 1971 concert was performed by The Choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Martin’s Choir, St. Mary’s Choir, Delores Hall, J. Faulton Hodge, Jack W. Jones, Reverend Richard R. Kirk, Reverend Richard Ragni, Reverend Howard Stone and the then-current Broadway company of Hair. On RCA’s recording and the new reissue, you’ll find versions of Hair favorites alongside the premiere of MacDermot’s Mass in F.
All three releases will be available as digital downloads from the usual e-tailers or on-demand CD-Rs from Arkiv Music and new partner Amazon.com. In addition, a number of titles previously released on CD on the DRG label will be making download debuts in two waves, one each in August and September. These include:
August 9 – Say, Darling, The Mad Show, Ernest in Love, Now Is the Time for All Good Men, The Nervous Set, and archy and mehitabel: a back-alley opera (retitled Shinbone Alley for Broadway)
September 20 – By Jupiter (1967), Paris ’90, Noël Coward at Las Vegas, and Noël Coward in New York
Gian Carlo Menotti, The Saint of Bleecker Street (RCA Victor LM-6032, 1954 – reissued RCA/Masterworks Broadway, 2011)
- Introduction – Rosa Mystica
- Well? I’m Tired of Waiting!
- The Vision Has Begun
- Ah, Sweet Jesus, Spare Me This Agony
- Look! The Stigmata
- Stop It!
- Ah, Poor Michele, It Is Not I Your Rival
- Canta Ninna, Canta Nanna, Al Mio Bambino
- Annina, I’ve Something to Confess to You
- Annina, Annina!
- Michele, Michele!
- Sister, I Shall Hide You and Take You Away
- Veglia Su Di Noi, Santo Del Sangue
- Introduction/Hai L’Occhio Nero, Nero Della Quaglia
- Where is Michele?
- Eh Gia Giovinotti Voglion Stare Attorno a Te
- Ah, Michele, Don’t You Know That Love Can Turn to Hate
- You Will Regret It
- I Know That You All Hate Me
- You Are Wrong, Michele
- Yes, Michele, Go Home, Go, Go?
- Introduction – Stop Worrying, Annina
- There She Is
- Weeping, These, For Him, Are Days of Weeping
- Agnus Dei, Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi
- Annina, Annina, Prepare Yourself For Great Joy
- Oh, My Love, At Last The Hour Has Come
- Maria, Salvatore!
- Gloria Tibi Domine In Saeculum Et In Saeculum Saeculi
- Annina, Annina!
Robert Colby and Nita Jonas, Rumpelstiltskin (Half-Past Wednesday) : Original Cast Recording (Columbia CS-8717, 1962 – reissued Columbia/Masterworks Broadway, 2011)
- Prologue–I’ve Got a Goose — Entire Cast
- What’s the Fun of Being King (If the King Is Poor?) — Dom DeLuise
- You’re the Sweet Beginning — Sean Garrison, Audre Johnston
- Who? Where? What? — David Winters
- The Spinning Song — David Winters, Audre Johnston
- If You Did It Once — Entire Cast
- How Lovely, How Lovely — Audre Johnston, Sean Garrison
- The Spinning Song (Reprise) — David Winters
- Grandfather (Ev’ry Baby’s Best Friend) — Dom DeLuise, Robert Fitch
- To Whit–To Whoo — David Winters
- What’s the Name of “What’s His Name?” — Entire Cast
- Companionship — David Winters
- We Know a Secret Secret — Entire Cast
- Finale — Entire Cast
Galt MacDermot, James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Divine Hair/Mass in F (RCA LSP-4632, 1971 – reissued RCA/Masterworks Broadway, 2011)
- Introduction (Organ) (Improvisation on Aquarius)
- Canon West’s Welcome
- The Collect
- Sanctus & Benedictsus Qui Venit – Mass In F
- The Lesson
- What A Piece Of Work Is Man
- The Epistle
- Where Do I Go?
- The Gospel
- Agnus Dei Mass In F
- 1000 Year Old Man
- Kyrie – Mass In F
- Gloria In Excelsis Mass In F
- Organ Improvisation on Aquarius
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The Flesh Failures