La corte de Faraón (Lleó)

Cora Raga, Enriqueta Serrano, Augusto Gonzalo. Coro y Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Antonio Capdevila
Blue Moon BMCD 7503

Ana María Iriarte, Joaquín Portillo, Dolores Cava, Miguel Ligero. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Ataulfo Argenta
Novoson Z-531

Luisa de Cordoba, Santiago Ramallé, Mari Carmen Aranda, Emilia Rincón. Coro y Orquesta de Cámara de Madrid, c. Enrique Navarro
Orfeon CDE 226

With its early date (1931,) cavalier disposal of vocal parts and wholesale cuts it might be thought that Capdevila's version of Lleó's outrageous parody of everything from Aida to La Belle Helene and back again was a non-starter. Far from it. This is a classic record of some great vaudeville performers, going for the comedic jugular - without compromising vocal virtues for a moment. Witty, clever and sexy, it puts more recent versions in the shade. And with six songs from Penella's even more over the top Jazz Band as filler, this CD is a clear winner.

Argenta's slack reading has all the sparkle of a warm sauterne, with Iriarte and Portillo ill-matched and coarse in the Lotha-José duet. The inclusion of some passages cut by Capdevila hardly makes a dismal performance more attractive. Orfeon's careless lifting of the Zafiro LP (available sometimes in the USA) is all the more regreattable given performers of the calibre of de Cordoba and Ramallé, and Navarro's zestful direction. This would be the prime modern(ish) recommendation if the transfer were any better than outrageously bad.