Chalk one up for the truth in advertising laws (if they exist). RCA's compilation disc, "The Only Operetta Album You'll Ever Need!," probably really is the only operetta album most casual listeners will ever need. Culled from RCA's back catalogue of operettas from the p
ast sixty-plus years, the collection contains practically every major number even the dedicated operetta buff could list off the top of his head.
The program, which, by the way, is arranged like a mini operetta in itself, begins with the overture to Strauss's Die Fledermaus, played by old-hand Robert Stolz with the Vienna Symphony. It zips along with grace and exuberance, properly setting the stage for the songs to come. There are nineteen selections all told, and among them are Strauss's "Als flotter Geist" sung by Fritz Wunderlich, Lehar's "Lippen schweigen" sung by Montserrat Caballe, Flotow's "M'appari" sung by Placido Domingo, Strauss's "Komm in die Gondel" sung by Ruolf Schock, Lehar's "Vilja-Lied" sung by Margit Schramm, Offenbach's "Dites-Lui" sung by Frederica von Stade, and Lehar's "Wolgalied" sung by Jerry Hadley.
Understandably, the sound varies slightly from one track to another, yet the whole set is remarkably uniform in overall quietness and sheen. About the only tune that stands out sorely is Wunderlich's second number, "Ach, wie so herrlich zu schauen," which tends to be louder, especially in the vocal, than the other pieces. Every item but one, Mario Lanza singing Lehar's "Yours is My Heart Alone," is in stereo. But even the Lanza mono sounds good. If you don't already own these works, or if you just long for the convenience of having them on a single disc, this is as good a way as any to get them.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below: