Wednesday, July 13, 2016


                It seems clear in retrospect that Bollywood and I had been lying in wait for one another for some time. But first, a little background on my musical tastes. They were pretty much established by the time I was ten (late 50’s).  Show-tunes occupied center stage. With a definite leaning toward operetta. My grandmother was probably an influence there. She treasured her memories of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.  Had even seen MacDonald in concert in the 40’s - to her, a completely rapturous experience.  I can still remember her describing how the diva swept onstage in “a slithering red dress”. I imagine that it was somehow through my grandmother’s influence, that our family record collection included a number of operetta LP’s. They were all budget items from RCA Camden conducted by Al Goodman ($1.98 each, I believe) and I played them pretty much non-stop. “The Desert Song”, “The Student Prince”, “The Chocolate Soldier”, “H.M. S. Pinafore”. Earl Wrightson generally handled lead baritone, joining voices with Frances Greer and Martha Wright, among others. Someone named Jimmy Carroll got most of the tenor assignments. And to this day I’ve never heard a tenor voice I like better.  None of this Three Tenors business, blood vessels bursting as songs are belted into submission. No, Jimmy Carroll offered something much more intimate – soft golden shimmer with a touch of Irish cream.  I wish he’d made a hundred LP’s.  Choral duties, crucial in operetta, were performed by studio singers christened The Guild Choristers.  I remember playing these albums on my little portable record player and in those years - before my voice broke - singing along with abandon. Sometimes with Carroll or Wrightson, sometimes with the sopranos (they sang, I screeched). Little of the Goodman operetta material (of which he released plenty) is available anymore. And the few reviewers who mention it usually aren’t too laudatory.  But, for anyone like me who grew up with them, these recordings are cherished and definitive.