The Desert Song (Nelson Eddy - Doretta Morrow) Lehman Engel
Composer: Sigmund Romberg
Lyricist: Oscar Hammerstein
I first fell in love with this recording MANY years ago when I was a teenager. It was in the local library. Unfortunately for me, it was "out-of-print", so I couldn't own my very own copy. A few years later, it was re-released ( it was on the Columbia label) and I was thrilled to finally own this wonderful recording. In the meantime, EMI/Angel had released a recording with the delightful June Bronhill and Edmund Hockridge - - both wonderful singers, but, unfortunately, the arrangements were new, modern, "souped-up" ones, that, even then, I found distasteful. That recording was released on CD a few years ago, but now the "modern" arrangements sound even worse than ever !
This older recording has MUCH going for it- it is the most complete recording ever made, with many of the finalettos and big ensembles; it features the original orchestral arrangements; and it has a superb cast. It is only lacking the "comic" numbers ( by far more inferior to the rest of the score) and a "Spanish" number from the beginning of Act II, " Song of the Brass Key". I always found Nelson Eddy's tone a little nasal, but he certainly had a big voice, and understands the style of this kind of music perfectly. Doretta Morrow was a stunning, slightly exotic beauty with a gorgeous voice. Usually described as a soprano, she always seemed more like a high mezzo to me, with her strong, rich, velvety lower register. The other roles are well taken by singers who appeared on Broadway and in operetta revivals all over the US. The score is very well conducted by Lehman Engel. ( His "Carousel" is another glory of the Flare catalogue.)