Operetta Research Center
9 June, 2023
I have always liked 90 percent of Camelot. And 100 percent of its delicious source material. I am, yes, too young to have seen the original production of the musical, tales of which’s development could apparently fill a bottle of pottage, and I only saw the patchy film version and a ghastly London Richard Harris revival. So, there is room in my brain and imagination for a Camelot as cast and directed by Gänzl, K F. Is it best that way? Or is this new recording of the recent Broadway revival going to show me the way. Because there is a little lumpiness, I feel, to wring out of the original.
Facts first. You can read what I wrote on the subject 20 years ago here. Now we listen to Camelot 2023. And no, I have not read the reviews, nor know any of the cast by name or in person, nor what changes have been made … just the reputation of the Lincoln Center.
Quick glance down the track list. Don’t seem to be any essentials missing. Even the Mordred bits (the only bits I have never warmed to) are there. Here we go: that dear, old overture ….
Interval. Verdict so far. Most enjoyable. Odd. When you are ‘recasting’ a show of which Julie Andrews was an original star, you expect to find the Andrews role the most difficult to refill. Here, it is refilled utterly triumphantly by Phillipa Soo. Bubbling with personality and fun: her ‘Simple Joys of Maidenhood’ gives me the yearns to see her in person. I’m sure YouTube will oblige … 10/10.
Andrew Burnap did every gentle credit to ‘How to Handle a Woman’, and dramatic value to the act finale, and even though I prefer ‘C’est moi’ sung by that Miles Gloriosus, Lancelot, as an heroic parody rather than a shout, Jordan Donica has a fine, swelling baritone.
Curtain going up. A rather edgy ‘If ever’. I liked the lushly grape juicy one of Robert Goulet better. I prefer warm and sexy to Victorian operatic. Can I skip ‘Deadly Virtues’ (is it a tap-dance or an out cut from Finian’s Rainbow?)? Then it’s back to Soo and Burnap and we’re on song again … warmth, sparkle, character… until ‘Fie, on goodness’ comes along. One of those chorus with soli from the 19th century which gives a couple of sub-principals a chance to do a spesh. As vigorous as V8, (I don’t recall it being quite so extended, but probably included here for choreographic reasons).
And then, the beautiful ‘I loved you once in silence’, carefully, if slightly slowly, sung by Mr Donica. Slow tempi sometimes invite unfortunate iffy phrasing, but our Lancelot seems to have laudably large lungs. I like him better in chest voice rather than in ringing head.
Surprisingly, to me, the climax to this recording (and production?) comes in an absolutely whizz-bang rendition of ‘Guenevere’ etcetera. Conductor, choir, actors come together to make an effect excitingly new to me, as Goodness is fied upon, Joan of Arc is led to the stake, and the Round Table gets its corners tacked back on. Another 10/10.
Total. If I still bought recordings, would I buy this? Yes. Just for tracks 18 and 3 (but not only). Would I, if I could visit NYC, go to see this version of this show? Definitely.
Thank you, Lincoln Center.