The Smithsonian’s 1981 Recording Of “Naughty Marietta” On CD For The First Time

The Musical Theater Project / Operetta Research Center
26 May, 2021

Harbinger Records is planning a re-issue – for the first time on CD – of the Smithsonian Institution’s 1981 recording of Victor Herbert’s Naughty Marietta, starring Judith Blazer and Leslie Harrington and conducted by James R. Morris.

The cover of the "Naughty Marietta" recording, released by Harbinger Records.

The cover of the “Naughty Marietta” recording, released by Harbinger Records.

Some consider the show Herbert’s greatest achievement and a classic American operetta, first produced on Broadway in 1910. (For more information on Herbert’s career, click here.) The tale of an Italian countess who stows away on a ship to New Orleans, where she falls in love with a frontiersman, it was adapted multiples times, most notably for the 1935 film with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy and a 1955 live NBC telecast with Patrice Munsel and Alfred Drake.

In 1981, the Smithsonian’s American Musical Theater series produced the first studio recording of the complete score of Naughty Marietta following semi-staged performances of the operetta at Baird Auditorium in D.C., giving fans the opportunity to hear it exactly as it was written by Herbert and librettist/lyricist Rida Johnson Young.

The poster for the hugely popular 1935 movie version of "Naughty Marietta".

The poster for the hugely popular 1935 movie version of “Naughty Marietta”.

“All the flavor and excitement of the work have been captured alive,” wrote Washington Post arts critic Octavio Roca. “Blazer is magnificent in the title role. She is a crystal-clear lyric soprano. Her Marietta is sexy. Her comic timing is the best, her naughtiness always tongue in cheek. Here was a star the audience would have gladly listened to all night.”

Now, with Harbinger’s re-issue of this historic recording, you can listen to such haunting songs as “’Neath the Southern Moon,” “Italian Street Song,” “Live for Today,” “I’m Falling in Love With Someone” and “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.”

The CD, produced by Ken Bloom and Dwight Blocker Bowers, includes a 20-page booklet with extensive essays and color photos, plus an interview with Judy Blazer.