JOHANN STRAUSS II - OPERETTAS
WARNER CLASSICS 50999 (10 disks)
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DIE FLEDERMAUS
Nicolai Gedda (Eisenstein). Anneliese Rothenberger (Rosalinde). Renate Holm (Adele). Brigitte Fassbaender (Orlofsky). Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Dr. Falke). Vienna State Opera Chorus/Vienna Symphony Orch/Willi Boskovsky, cond. (110:22) (rec. 1971)

EIN NACHT IN VENEDIG
Nicola Gedda (Guido). Rita Streich (Annina). Cesare Curzi (Caramello). Christine Görner (Ciboletta_/ Hermann Prey (Enrico Piselli). Bavarian Radio Chorus/Graunke Orch/Franz Allers, cond. (95:22) (rec. 1967)

DER ZIGUENERBARON
Hermann Prey (Count Peter Homonay).Wolfgang Annheisser (Count Carmero). Nicolai Gedda (Sandor Barinkay). Kurt Böhme (Kalman Zsupan). Rita Streich (Arsena). Grace Bumbry (Saffi). Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orch/Franz Allers, cond. (101:37) (rec. 1969)

SIMPLICIUS
Michael Volle (The Hermit). Martin Zysset (Simplicius). Rolf Haunstein (General von Vliessen). Elisabeth Magnuson (Hildegard). Piotr Beczala (Armin von Grübben). Oliver Widmer (Melchior). Zurich Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Franz Welser-Möst, cond. (117:54) (rec. 1999)

WIENER BLUT
Klaus Hirtz (Prince Ypsheim Gindelbach). Nicolai Gedda (Balduin). Anneliese Rothenberger (Gabriele). Gerd Wieberitz (Count Bitowski). Renate Holm (Franziska Caligari). Hans Putz (Kagler). Chorus ad Philharmonia Hungarica Orch/Willi Boskovsky, cond.(97:01) (no recording information provided)

Here are four of Johann Strauss's famous operettas as well as one that probably will be new to most listeners. This is

Simplicius, an operetta basic on writings of HJC von Gimmelhausen, premiered in Vienna in 1887. The incredibly convoluted plot does not seem to be appropriate for an operetta: you can find it in detail on WIKIPEDIA. However, Simplicus does contain many lively tunes, which the composer used a number of times in later works. There is a DVD of the Zurich Opera 1999 production, the sound track of which is heard on this CD reissue. You will notice the cast includes Polish tenor Picot Beczala very early in his career before he became a superstar. Nicola Gedda recorded his performances in the mid-1950s for EMI, three of them with Elisabeth Schwarz. Doubtless EMI felt collectors wanted to have this music in stereo, and this is the result. The conducting is in good hands. Willi Boskovskyi, long concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic, has recorded much of Johanna's orchestral music, and is in charge of Fledermaus and Wiener Blut. The other two are led by Austria-Hungarian conductor Franz Allers (1905-1995), who was a major figure on America's musical scene for many decades. . He had a close association with Lerner and Lowe, and conducted the premieres of Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot. He obviously knows what musical theater and operetta are about, and leads spirited performances. Excellent audio throughout, only three pages of minimal program notes, but complete recording information is provided. This is an irresistible collection indeed! And it is a perfect comanion for the recent Warner Classics set of ten operas by Richard Strauss (REVIEW).

R.E.B. (February (2014)