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Gilbert & Sullivan: Iolanthe; Overture di Ballo

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About this title: Iolanthe has never achieved quite the place in the popular imagination that H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado have, but musically and dramatically it's one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most musically and dramatically integrated operettas. Sullivan's score is even more than usually tuneful, and his orchestration is particularly sparkling and inventive. The operetta receives a splendid performance by Malcolm Sargent leading the Pro Arte Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. The effectiveness of Sargent's Glyndebourne recordings is inconsistent, but here the high level of musicianship that characterizes all the performances is matched by vocal characterizations with the sense of whimsy needed to make Gilbert and Sullivan really take off. George Baker, a marvelous comedian, is particularly engaging as the Lord Chancellor, making the old curmudgeon so lovable that one can't help being delighted when he's reunited with his long-lost wife, the fairy Iolanthe, who still looks like...

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