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Reviews for THE DREAM RING IPCD 1026-29

Reviews for IPCDs 1026, 27, 28, 29



Wagner: THE DREAM RING


WAGNER Das Rheingold Artur Bodanzky, cond; Friedrich Schorr (Wotan); Eduard Habich (Alberich); René Maison (Loge); Karl Laufkötter (Mime); Norman Cordon (Fasolt); Emanuel List (Fafner); Karin Branzell (Fricka); Dorothee Manski (Freia); Kerstin Thorborg (Erda); Julius Huehn (Donner); Hans Clemens (Froh); Sheila Andreva (Woglinde); Irra Petina (Wellgunde); Doris Doe (Flosshilde); Metropolitan Opera O • IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES 1026 (2 CDs: 133:17) Live: New York 4/3/1937


WAGNER Die Walküre Erich Leinsdorf, cond; Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund); Lotte Lehmann (Sieglinde); Emanuel List (Hunding); Friedrich Schorr (Wotan); Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde); Karin Branzell (Fricka); Thelma Votipka (Gerhilde); Maxine Stellman (Waltraute); Doris Doe (Schwertleite); Irene Jessner (Ortlinde); Dorothee Manski (Helmwige); Helen Olheim (Siegrune); Lucielle Browning (Rossweise); Winifred Heidt (Grimgerde); Metropolitan Opera O • IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES 1027 (3 CDs: 208:25) Live: New York 2/19 and 3/30/1940


WAGNER Siegfried Artur Bodanzky, cond; Lauritz Melchior (Siegfried); Friedrich Schorr (Wanderer); Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde); Karl Laufkötter (Mime); Eduard Habich (Alberich); Kerstin Thorborg (Erda); Emanuel List (Fafner); Sheila Andreva (Woodbird); Metropolitan Opera O • IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES 1028 (3 CDs: 210:10) Live: New York 1/30/1937


WAGNER Götterdämmerung Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond; Lauritz Melchior (Siegfried); Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde); Herbert Janssen (Gunther); Hilde Konetzni (Gutrune, Third Norn); Ludwig Weber (Hagen); Eduard Habich (Alberich); Kerstin Thorborg (Waltraute); Magda Gabory (Woglinde); Margarita Kenney (Wellgunde, Second Norn); Sieglinde Wagner (Flosshilde); Margret Weth-Falke (First Norn); various orchestras • IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES 1028 (4 CDs: 244:57)


Colin Clarke
FANFARE magazine,
November/December 2013


So here it is, “The Dream Ring” in a shiny new remastering and restoration. Richard Caniell’s dream, that is; and, vocally at least, this is a Ring to die for. The insertions are there, and intelligent they are, each and every one of them. Thorborg as the Rheingold Erda (as opposed to Doris Doe) makes perfect sense, for example, as Thorborg has more gravitas as well as more vocal depth. As to the recording, here’s something: Wagner’s watery girls at the explosive outburst of “Rheingold” in the first scene here sound more impressive than the trio in the Janowski PentaTone issue reviewed elsewhere in this issue, and recorded in 2012. I suppose I had better define “better,” given PentaTone’s state-of-the-art equipment. It just makes more dramatic sense, and Caniell has been able to use sources in which the best possible sound is achieved. The effect is more satisfying musically, more overwhelming. As always, the booklet documentation is more than generous, more of a boon from on high, and all of the trials, tribulations, and inserts are documented along with synopses and introductions clearly penned by a Wagner enthusiast (if I were to use the term “Wagner nut” I would use it in the best, most affectionate sense).


Bodanzky famously put an intermission in Rheingold (something which would be considered a sin beyond redemption these days, of course). He cut some music in doing this, too, restored here by Caniell-magic. Lest we dismiss Bodanzky out of hand, there are some great things here, not least in the characterization of the Giants (where there is, in terms of recording, a surprising amount of presence) and a malleability of mood (hear how he moves so effortlessly between the “hard” giants’ music and the “soft” tenderness for the goddess Freia).


One can hear Doe in the Naxos Historical version of this performance (8.110047/48), again engineered by Caniell and a fascinating comparison (she is also Flosshilde on the present disc, as it was originally a dual-role assumption). Each and every time, it was the warmth and detail of the new version that won out. Try the chthonic opening, redolent with potential and foreboding, for example. Habich’s Alberich is multifaceted, revealing a multitude of characterization details. Caniell speaks in what might be considered purple prose, were it not so true, about the passage beginning “Der Listigste dünkt sich Loge” when he says that “were it a painting, this vocal creation would be worthy of the finest museum.” Later, when it comes to the scene four Curse, it is the pairing of Bodanzky and Habich that ensures dramatic success, as Bodanzky retains the tension through the laughter and Alberich’s “Bin ich nun frei?” through to the Curse itself.


When it comes to the second scene, it is impossible not to sit back and revel in the luxury of hearing Branzell and Schorr together. What is interesting is that, despite the burnished splendor of Schorr’s “Vollendet das ewige Werk,” it is Branzell who outshines him (Hark! I can hear the letters dropping on the editor’s doormat even now) because of her incredible tenderness, a tenderness which speaks of tremendously human qualities, and the best ones at that, in goddess form. Recording-wise, there is a surprising amount of presence to the giants’ music. It is in the final scene that Schorr reveals his absolute best, resplendent as he greets Valhalla and leads the gods into their new home. Habich meets his (vocal and dramatic) match in Laufkötter’s Mime, an assumption perfectly characterized. It is the final scene that needs enough recording clout to succeed, and Caniell ensures this is so. There is what we might today call luxury casting in Emanuel List as Fafner and Julius Huehn as a clarion Donner.


The Walküre is essentially a fusion of two broadcasts so that the ideal protagonists can be united: February 19 and March 30, 1940. More, Caniell has attempted to ensure consistency of cast over the entire span of the Ring. In terms of the actual manufacture of this Walküre, as Caniell puts it, he “greatly regrets” that he had to break act II over two compact discs. It is indeed a shame, but it is pardonable when such great things are afoot. Leinsdorf’s tempo for the first scene is hyper-rapid, the bass tremendous (we can wish, unrealistically, for a little more depth, perhaps). This is a tremendously exciting act I in which Melchior and Lotte Lehmann are entirely convincing as the starcross’d siblings. Emanuel List’s Hunding is all one could wish for: big and brutish. Lehmann is excellent, not least at her steely-voiced vital line “Siegmund, so nenn’ ich dich,” but it is Melchior that is jaw-droppingly astonishing, not least in those cries of “Wälse!” that are protracted out into infinity. The end of the act is appropriately breathless, given the emotions in gear at the time, and “Siegmund heiss’ ich” finds Melchior absolutely in his element.


Leinsdorf’s liking for pulse-racing drama means the opening of act II (CD 1, track 15) is astonishingly hectic. You’ll love it or hate it (I suspect the former), just as you will the applause that comes forth as Wotan strides on stage. Flagstad is less strong than expected in this act; in contrast, Branzell’s Fricka is more than I had expected/remembered. There are balance problems in some of Wotan’s more vital monologues, but they hardly matter. By this time it is clear that Schorr has become Wotan incarnate, and as Schorr really gets behind the words’ meaning, so Leinsdorf gets behind Schorr in some of his finest conducting. A pity that the cries of “Götternot” are recessed in the balance. Flagstad is nearly his equal, and as the act progresses she becomes so; as the two voices mesh, one really feels the intensity of this dark corner of the cycle. The final act is remarkable, particularly for Schorr’s Wotan—the drama he brings to the cries of “Leb’ wohl!” and the heartwrenching tenderness of the end.


The “Walkürenritt” of the final act is unsurprisingly (from this conductor) brisk and visceral. There is a slightly chaotic edge to some moments (one can hardly make out the shouts of “Willkommen!” that greet Brünnhilde’s arrival) but all is erased when one meets the strength of Lehmann’s Sieglinde and the poignant “War es so schmählich?” from Flagstad. It was particularly interesting to experience the Siegfried in the context of attending the performance at this year’s Proms in London conducted by Barenboim (he’s actually conducting Götterdämmerung as I type this, for what it’s worth). To enter the fairytale world of Siegfried, whose psychological ramifications shake the World itself, is a remarkable experience. Caniell has replaced a small portion of the Second Act with 78s, and helpfully includes the original in a brief (1”20) appendix to the third disc. It is very useful to have this. The music of the appendix is harsh and some of it sounds like it is about to dissolve any second. It is worth noting that Caniell has used different transcription discs than those used by Naxos. The sound, it has to be said, is amazing. True, the sound on the Archipel Desert Island Collection (ARPCD 0006) was not bad, but this takes it up another notch, and a big one at that. Laufkötter is perfectly cast as a hectoring Mime, although what really impresses are his narrative abilities in the First Act. Schorr is wonderfully focused in this act, although I personally find myself hankering after Hotter. Nevertheless, Immortal Performances presents what really does seem to be close to a near-ideal cast, and Schorr’s projection of his authority as the questions progress is a miracle in itself. Perhaps this act needs a greater conductor than Bodanzky, but there is no denying the excitement he can generate.


Both Immortal Performances and Archipel have problems with surface noise in the Second Act. But there is so much to enjoy, vocally, not least Emanuel List’s magnificently dark Fafner. Stella Andreva could perhaps be a touch more vocally agile as the Woodbird, but there is nothing here to seriously detract. It is in the vocal threesome of Schorr, Melchior, and Flagstad that the final portions of the piece really fly. Flagstad is razor-sharp, but not piercing, at least in this transfer. This is a meeting of two huge voices, and two absolute vocal equals. Bodanzky assures a real sense of moving towards the ecstatic climax of the end. One is left breathless, as I’m sure the audience was (the applause starts well before the final chord).


The Götterdämmerung is the most complex in terms of provenance. There are a total of eight sources that comprise this set. To be accurate, there is a total of 177 joins of these eight sources, which include 1929 and 1931 commercial issues of Melchior, two Covent Garden performances of 1937, and a 1936 Met broadcast. The Norn scene is from La Scala, 1950. If ever there was an act of technological virtuosity, this is it. Not because of the collage, but because it works so well musically. Given the complicated provenance, this is best described as “orchestras chiefly conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler (see recording notes).” But a glance at the cast takes one Heavenwards: Ludwig Weber as Hagen stands out straight away, along with Herbert Janssen’s Gunther and Hilde Konetzni’s Gutrune. Proven friends from previous installments return.


And well might one’s mouth water. At the helm is the greatest Wagnerian of them all, Wilhelm Furtwängler (in my estimation, even Reginald Goodall bows to him). That Caniell has nailed sound that enables full enjoyment of the conductor’s almighty grasp of Wagner is cause for great celebration, not to mention gratitude. Whatever strengths Flagstad’s lyrical assumption of Brünnhilde might have, it is Furtwängler’s grasp of Leitmotif and harmony that makes this set truly great (although the Dream Ring is vocally consistent over its trajectory, in conducting terms this final part is the zenith). The moments where the orchestra shines (Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, for example, where in recording terms the strings show remarkable presence, or the act III Funeral Music, from Scala 1950) are truly cherishable.


Although Melchior is slightly distanced at times, his heroic aspect comes strongly through. What comes through most of all, though, is how perfectly suited each voice is to its part. Janssen is surely the perfect Gunther, and who else would you pick for the perfect Hagen but Ludwig Weber? He does not disappoint. And I have to be honest: I have never looked forward to the act II Alberich/Hagen sections (Habich and Weber). It is terrific on whatever musical grounds one picks, despite some undesirable sonics around track 3. Melchior is properly Heldentenor-ish. Perhaps my only quibble is the male chorus, which sounds rather like a well-drilled football mob on occasion (but then again, they are not supposed to sound like a gentlemen’s cricket club). The whole is topped by a simply magnificent Immolation Scene (although a dramatic peak near it is the numinous moment). What is remarkable here in these final pages is the sheer variety of emotions, from heartstopping stillness, through an awe-inspiring “Fliegt Heim, ihr Raben,” to the ecstasy of the final bars.


The documentation for the final set spills into two extended booklets, including the detailed essay “Forging a Complete Ring: Background and Recording Notes” by Caniell himself. Make no mistake, this whole enterprise is a significant achievement in recorded history.




Wagner: THE DREAM RING


Henry Fogel
FANFARE magazine,
November/December 2013


There are two issues, separate but related, to consider when reviewing Immortal Performances ’“Dream Ring.” One is the concept itself, the second is the result—whatever we think of the concept, what do we think of the result?


The concept is the trickiest aspect, and one on which reasonable people will disagree. (Unreasonable people might disagree too, but frankly I don’t care.) Richard Caniell, the proprietor of Immortal Performances and producer of these discs, has done this with the Ring before, when he worked with Guild Records. He now works exclusively for his own label, and he has redone the “Dream Ring,” making considerable improvements along the way. The sound quality is both more vivid and more consistent here than it was on Guild. He has realized what many of us have dreamed about—if only we could create the ideal performance by combining recordings with different singers into a magnificent whole.


If you are a purist who cannot tolerate the idea of this kind of wizardry in concocting performances, then you should not read further, because this set will hold no interest for you (except for Siegfried, which is the one opera that is a whole performance without changes). It is important to point out that performances with these casts actually did occur, but they were not broadcast, and thus not preserved as they happened. If the idea doesn’t repel you, then the issue you will want addressed is how well it is done, and the answer is that it is done very well indeed. Götterdämmerung probably has the most dramatic number of changes. Caniell summarizes them in the accompanying booklet in a very general way, but doesn’t give edit-by-edit details. The archivist part of me wishes he would, but the listener in me understands why he doesn’t. When I asked him about it, Caniell responded that he doesn’t provide the laundry list because he doesn’t wish to “dispel or violate the magic of what Gestalt there is in communicating an actual ongoing performance.” I understand, and I think I agree with him. If we had a detailed index of where changes occurred, we would be focusing on that, listening to see if we could detect the change—and the whole purpose of what he has done, which is to attempt to create what sounds like a unified, effective, and great performance, would be contradicted.


It is worth pointing out that as a unified Ring this does not necessarily achieve the stature of the great recorded cycles, particularly from a conducting perspective. There is still no substitute for one of the Furtwängler Ring cycles—especially the Scala cycle as transferred by Pristine Audio—for a unified start-to-finish concept. And there is much to be said for other cycles, particularly those led by Solti, Barenboim, Krauss, and others. What you get here are four individual recordings of the operas that represent greater Wagner singing than is heard on any other recording, and sound restoration that is as good as is possible today. And all of the conducting is very fine, even if Bodanzky, Furtwängler, and Leinsdorf are three quite different musicians.


Das Rheingold: The foundation of this recording is the April 3, 1937 Met broadcast. One major change from the original addresses the fact that in those days the Met broke this one-act opera into two acts, in order to have an intermission. (Erich Leinsdorf once told me that it was a requirement of the Met’s contract with its food service provider that they have an intermission, so they often paired operas like Salome and Elektra with something else in order to provide it, but because of the length of Das Rheingold, they made the conductor break it). The break required a concert ending at the point of the break. Caniell has, using other recorded performances, simply gone back to what Wagner wrote. The other major change is that he replaces the least adequate member of the broadcast cast, Doris Doe as Erda, with the great Kerstin Thorborg. By having Thorborg both here and in the “dream” Siegfried, he preserves her complete traversal of the role. “Weiche Wotan, weiche” is a marvel. This release also includes some introductory commentary by Milton Cross, to preserve the atmosphere. If you don’t want to hear it you can easily bypass it, since it is tracked separately.


The performance holds together marvelously, and with a cast including the names you see in the headnote, this is indeed a Rheingold of one’s dreams. Bodanzky was something much more than the routinier he is often accused of being. He was a Mahler assistant in Vienna, and headed the German wing of the Met for many years. His Rheingold is fluid, flexible, and dynamic—sensitive to dramatic situation and to the natural ebb and flow of the music. For a 1937 broadcast, the sound is surprisingly rich. No, it is not the equal of a fine mid-1950s monaural studio recording, let alone the best of modern technology. But if you have a tolerance for historic recorded sound, you will find this more than listenable. This edition is a meaningful improvement over Caniell’s own earlier version.


Schorr’s Wotan is a known classic, and knowledgeable vocal collectors will be thrilled to see names like Thorborg and Branzell in the cast. But in addition there are real strengths in the performances of some who are not quite as well-known. Maison’s Loge grabs you every time he’s on stage, and Eduard Habich is a horrifyingly vivid Alberich. Top to bottom, especially with the interpolation of Thorborg, this is an unbeatable cast. The performance has about it the aura of one of those evenings where everyone in the cast and the pit knew that something special was happening. The few departures from the original broadcast do not in any way dilute or detract from that aura.


Die Walküre: This is basically a fusion of two 1940 broadcasts, one from February 19th and the other from March 30th. Both were conducted by Leinsdorf. The first featured Kirsten Flagstad’s Brünnhilde with Julius Huehn’s Wotan, Marjorie Lawrence’s Sieglinde, and Karen Branzell’s Fricka. The second featured Lawrence’s Brünnhilde with Friedrich Schorr’s Wotan, Lotte Lehmann’s Sieglinde, and Kerstin Thorborg’s Fricka. The goal was to create a seamless performance that combined Flagstad’s Brünnhilde, Schorr’s Wotan, Lehmann’s Sieglinde, and Branzell’s Fricka (because Thorborg has already been heard as Erda in this “Dream Ring”). All of these artists did perform their respective roles together, just not on any one given broadcast that was preserved. We are fortunate that Leinsdorf conducted both performances, and that he was an extremely consistent conductor. (When I worked with him as a guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony, he was very pleased if Saturday’s performance of a particular work was very close to the same timing as Thursday’s). Caniell is to be commended for the excellence of his editing. The switches between performances here are virtually undetectable, even if one is listening for them. And the sound quality is also top-drawer, with a wider range of colors and dynamics than most broadcasts from this era (it has much more impact than the 1937 Rheingold, good as that is).


The First Act of this performance has some very serious competition from the famed 1935 studio recording featuring the same three singers (Melchior, Lehmann, and List), with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Bruno Walter. One might expect that this start-to-finish live performance would have a momentum and sweep that would be missing in a studio recording made in four-minute segments. But one of the miracles of that earlier effort (well transferred on both Naxos and Pristine) is that somehow Walter managed to maintain shape and dramatic impetus under those primitive studio conditions. However, there are some moments when the fact that the singers in Immortal Performances’ set are engaged in a fully staged performance in front of an audience raises the temperature just a bit, and those who consider Leinsdorf to be too cool and distant a conductor will be surprised by the degree of urgency and lyrical sweep he brings to the music. List’s singing as Hunding is somewhat less steady of tone than it was five years earlier, but still solid enough, and he is stronger dramatically here than in the studio recording.


About Melchior and Lehmann, little needs to be said. It is hard to imagine a Wagnerian who could conjure up in the mind’s ear a more ideal pair for this music, and having them so strongly present in an actual performance is thrilling. Purists might complain about how long Melchior holds “Wälse” both times (even longer here than in the studio recording), but the rest of us will think: “Wow, that’s what Wagner would have written if he would have thought any human being could actually do it!”


It is in the Second Act that Caniell’s technical skills and musical ear were required. Because his Fricka and Wotan of choice did not appear in the same broadcast, he had to keep switching back and forth between the two broadcasts in their big scene. I listened in different ways to that scene. First, I just listened through as I would to any performance, to see if it flowed naturally and musically. It did. So, then, I felt that as a reviewer I needed really to test my reaction, and I went back to it with the libretto to see if I could detect the edits. I could not. On the third hearing, it seemed to me that the overall sound quality might be a bit richer and fuller in the March 30th broadcast (with Schorr), but that Caniell has done a masterful job in matching the two. Although in fact Branzell and Schorr were not in the same performance, and each was interacting with a different antagonist in this scene, the result on this recording sounds absolutely natural and convincing.


One must admit that Schorr by 1940 was past his best years vocally, and the top is strained. But his understanding of the character, and his ability to project majesty and power while at the same time spinning an evenly produced and beautiful legato, more than compensate.


In the Third Act, Caniell again faced the considerable challenge of switching back and forth between the two Met broadcasts a great deal in order to put Flagstad’s Brünnhilde and Lehmann’s Sieglinde into the same performance. Because the two broadcasts were separated by only six weeks and feature the same conductor, orchestra, and company, the editing is again seamless. The sound has been improved upon from the original Guild release and is, in fact, remarkably vivid. Once again, try as I might, I couldn’t hear the cuts from one to the other, and found it easy to surrender to the impact of the whole. One would willingly kill to hear a Walküre sung like this today.


Siegfried: This is the least complicated of the four operas in this set, because it is the only one with no interpolations. It reproduces a single Met broadcast, and again it is a performance that leaves today’s listener agape. Yes, Bodanzky is impetuous and pushes things ahead frequently; he and Melchior seem to be trying to outdo each other in that department. But that is what gives the performance an elemental excitement that one almost never encounters. For one thing, most tenors have to be careful not to expend too much of their vocal resources too early; after all, they have to match the soprano in the final scene, which she sings with an utterly fresh voice. Melchior seems to have had limitless resources—he throws himself into the role with utter abandon, and still sounds fresh in the final duet. As for the forging scene, it is unlike any performance any of us will ever encounter in the opera house in our lifetimes. Again, the 1937 broadcast sound is surprisingly full and clear in this transfer, and frankly, despite the glories of modern technology, this is probably the Siegfried I will turn to in the future when I want to experience the full work. Vocally and dramatically this is the ultimate experience, largely because Melchior has had no equal since the dawn of recording.


Götterdämmerung: This is even more complicated than Die Walküre. Most of the performance is conducted by Furtwängler, either from Covent Garden in 1937 (and what a shame that cycle wasn’t recorded in its entirety) or from La Scala in 1950. Small sections are from the Met in 1936 with Bodanzky conducting, and the Met in 1951 with Fritz Stiedry. It is again astonishing that the whole holds together the way it does. It has the feel of a single brilliantly sung performance, even with our knowledge that it is not. In addition to improved sound over the earlier Guild release, Caniell has replaced the 1939 Met opening Norn scene and Brünnhilde-Siegfried duet with the 1937 Covent Garden performance, in order to have Furtwängler on the podium.


It is this Götterdämmerung where one might most seriously fret over the concept or the execution (or both) of this “Dream Ring.” Yes, almost all of it is conducted by Furtwängler—but it is Furtwängler from 1937 and 1950, hardly the same conductor. The orchestras change, the singers even when constant are from different parts of their careers, and then you have to add the fact that there are two more conductors involved. You would think that this had little chance of sounding like a unified performance with a sense of shape and direction. Somehow, it does. There are some editing points (very few) that are noticeable—I hear a change in sound between the first two scenes of the First Act. But on the whole Caniell has made the sound consistent and the edit points unnoticeable. What is more impressive, however, is that he has fashioned a whole that sounds integrated, in a way that one would think was not possible. In reviewing the earlier release on Guild in Gramophone in August 2003, one of the great vocal scholars of our time, John Steane, said: “The Götterdämmerung is an extraordinary network, drawing on three stage performances, sometimes in rapid succession; there are also two passages where studio recordings have been incorporated. Considering the variations in recorded sound between 1936, the earliest year of recording, and 1951 (the latest), it is extraordinary what has been achieved.”


The Immolation Scene used here is from Covent Garden 1937, surely the finest of the five recorded versions with Flagstad and Furtwängler. Her voice peals out with authority and ease, soaring through Wagner’s long line. The scene brings to a close this remarkable achievement—a Ring cycle for the ages, with the greatest Wagnerian voices of the 20th century brought together in front of the microphones in a way that may never have happened in the real world of broadcasts and recordings, but surely did in the ears of those lucky enough to have heard them together in the house in unrecorded performances, and in the dreams of all who love this music. Caniell has made considerable improvements over his Guild “Dream Ring” set, in terms of cleaning up the sound, making it more consistent, and improving some of the edits.


One other important note about this Götterdämmerung: in the Guild issue that Caniell produced earlier, he had Deszö Ernster as Hagen. While Ernster was adequate, he has improved things considerably by replacing him here with Ludwig Weber, a truly magnificent Hagen (replacing the Met performance with the Covent Garden one, which also brings in more Furtwängler).


Immortal Performances has included copious notes for each opera, with track-by-track plot synopses but no libretto, and an essay in each indicating the general approach to compiling that particular performance, without, as I indicated earlier, a blow-by-blow account of sources. All of it makes fascinating and thought-provoking reading. Caniell’s notes about the singers and performances are considerable, and add to the value of the production. At times, Caniell seems a bit defensive of his approach, but I suspect that over the years he has received a great deal of criticism for piecing together performances that never actually took place, so he might be a tad touchy on the subject. He needn’t be. He has never claimed that these were anything other than what they are, and the original performances with their original casts exist elsewhere for us to have if we wish. What he has done is to bring to life something almost all of us have done in our minds’ ears. And he has done it with astonishing skill.


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