While she was in London appearing in My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews spent a few afternoons in July 1958 singing the title role of the operetta Rose-Marie for a studio cast recording released by RCA Victor Records -- 50 years later it's out of copyright in Europe, so here is Sepia Records' unlicensed version of it. Although Rose-Marie is supposed to be partially a Native American who speaks pidgin English (witness her song "Lak Jeem," i.e., "Like Jim"), Andrews makes no attempt to accommodate that characterization. Indeed, while she follows the occasionally fractured syntax of the lyrics, she sings in the same clipped, upper-class English accent that Eliza Doolittle learned from Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. That's just an indication that there isn't any real effort at character realism here. The singers simply try to sing the score as well as they can, and that turns out to be very good, with Andrews' romantic interest, Jim, played by opera singer Giorgio Tozzi, teaming with her successfully on "Indian Love Call" and other roles played by such effective performers of the British stage of the 1950s as the comic Meier Tzelniker and Frances Day ("Hard-Boiled Herman," "Why Shouldn't We") as well as Marion Keene ("Totem Tom-Tom"). But the recording is largely a showcase for Andrews. That covers the first 14 tracks on this 25-track compilation, the rest of the disc being filled up by scratchy, but interesting, performances by members of the original London cast of Rose-Marie from back in 1925 (tracks 15-21); Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy of the 1936 movie version, singing "Indian Love Call"; one song, "Pretty Things," from a 1948 studio cast recording featuring Marion Bell; and a couple of tracks from a 1957 studio cast recording featuring Elizabeth Larner and Andy Cole. All of this added material doesn't quite make the Sepia album an "ultimate" Rose-Marie, but it does provide comparisons in how different performers have interpreted the score over the decades. Andrews more than holds her own against the competition. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Works DetailsPorter, Cole : Rose-Marie
- Conductor: Lehman Engel
- Notes: London (07/22/1958/07/25/1958)
- Running Time: 2 min. 32 sec.
- Period Time: Modern