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Best rendition of "I Could Have Danced All Night" - Choose up to two selections...

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Amazon.com: My Fair Lady (Broadway) Poster (14 x 22) : Home & Kitchen


Lerner and Loewe - "I Could Have Danced All Night" from "My Fair Lady"

"I Could Have Danced All Night" - with music written by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner - Published in 1956.
The song is sung by the musical's heroine, Eliza Doolittle, expressing her exhilaration and excitement after an impromptu dance with her tutor, Henry Higgins - in the small hours of the morning. In a counterpoint during the second of 3 rounds, two maids and the housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce, urge Eliza to go to bed, but she ignores them.

It was first performed by Julie Andrews in the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady. In the 1964 film adaptation of the musical, the song was sung by Marni Nixon, dubbing the singing voice of Audrey Hepburn who played Eliza Doolittle.




Julie Andrews


Shirley Bassey


Diana Damrau


Barbara Hannigan


Fatma Said

 

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Note: because these "Showtunes Sing-Off" threads will have up to five selections each, the contest is meant to be conducted at a more leisurely week-long listening pace than those which appear daily in the Opera section of the forum. Even though each is less than three minutes in length, five versions of the same tune in a single session can try the stamina of even the strongest amongst us.

In an ideal world, the forum would have a lavishly decorated piano bar serving complimentary cocktails as no rendition of any showtune is as tuneful as the one that is belted out by the well-fueled patrons of a lavishly decorated piano bar which serves complimentary cocktails...


I made the decision to place it here in the "Vocal Music" section so that it would not interfere with the "Opera Contest of the Day" threads.

Based on the responses received, this could become a weekly series which would appear on Sundays.


Alternate versions that did not make the cut for one reason or another...



 

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Talk about my ultimate imprint song. My father bought the original cast album in 1956 and played it over and over and over before he passed it on to me. My parents took me to see it on Broadway the following year; Julie was still in it, although Rex had left. I've been listening to the album (and the original London cast album in stereo) for more than 60 years. So there was no way I could not choose Julie.

Of the opera singers, Kiri Te Kanawa is the my favorite of those I've heard.

I have the studio album with her and Jeremy Irons. Here's a YouTube video with the same performers. "I Could Have Danced All Night" begins just after the 25 minute mark. The syncing is horrendous.


Finally, I have a version by Sinatra, but it was not his finest hour.
 

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Julie Andrews - this original cast recording set the standard against which all others are measured - Andrews has it all - vocal control, good tone, enunciation, musical phrasing, voice suitability, and versatility.

If Andrews wasn't on the ballot, my vote would have gone to Fatma Said who has all of the above qualities and successfully resists the opera singer's almost irresistible temptation to wildly over-play the dynamics - She knows how to swing a melody...

Second vote went to Barbara Hannigan - who also possesses all of the above vocal qualities - and has provided an interpretation so unique - so superbly sung - so beautifully expressed - that it may just be the only viable candidate that can rival the original for "Best in Class" - She too has the all-too-rare quality of being able to swing a tune - and based on the album cover - she is, without a shadow of a doubt, the opera world's foremost table-top dancer.

HANNIGAN,BARBARA - Crazy Girl Crazy - Amazon.com Music
 

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I've just seen this competition. What fun! I will give it my attention when I have time to listen, though I've a feeling nobody will supplant Julie Andrews in my affections, as I've known her performance ever since I was a boy.
 

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Julie Andrews - this original cast recording set the standard against which all others are measured - Andrews has it all - vocal control, good tone, enunciation, musical phrasing, voice suitability, and versatility.

If Andrews wasn't on the ballot, my vote would have gone to Fatma Said who has all of the above qualities and successfully resists the opera singer's almost irresistible temptation to wildly over-play the dynamics - She knows how to swing a melody...

Second vote went to Barbara Hannigan - who also possesses all of the above vocal qualities - and has provided an interpretation so unique - so superbly sung - so beautifully expressed - that it may just be the only viable candidate that can rival the original for "Best in Class" - She too has the all-too-rare quality of being able to swing a tune - and based on the album cover - she is, without a shadow of a doubt, the opera world's foremost table-top dancer.

HANNIGAN,BARBARA - Crazy Girl Crazy - Amazon.com Music
I don't know if it was the case in this instance, but on Broadway songwriters will actually create a song for a particular voice. A good example is "Send in the Clowns," which has a limited range and short lines because Glynis Johns had a limited range and could not sustain.

Is that done in opera as well?
 

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I don't know if it was the case in this instance, but on Broadway songwriters will actually create a song for a particular voice. A good example is "Send in the Clowns," which has a limited range and short lines because Glynis Johns had a limited range and could not sustain.

Is that done in opera as well?
Maybe not so much now, but Handel was known to write certain roles for specific singers,. So did the bel canto composers, Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. Same with Verdi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I don't know if it was the case in this instance, but on Broadway songwriters will actually create a song for a particular voice. A good example is "Send in the Clowns," which has a limited range and short lines because Glynis Johns had a limited range and could not sustain.

Is that done in opera as well?
Our friend, @Tsaraslondon graciously supplied an appropriate answer to your question but I didn't express myself as clearly in that original post as I would have liked - I was speaking more in terms of the cultural, and more specifically, the financial aspects of this particular recording rather than its being directed towards the (not inconsiderable) vocal abilities of Julie Andrews -

"The album became a massive seller, topping the charts on the US Billboard 200 for fifteen weeks at different times in 1956 (eight consecutive weeks), 1957, 1958, and 1959. It was the first LP record to sell 1 million copies.

In the UK, upon its release in 1958, the album reached No.1 for 19 consecutive weeks and became the biggest-selling album of the year.

Columbia's President, Goddard Lieberson provided the $375,000 needed to stage the show in return for the rights to the Cast recording. Columbia first reissued the album on compact disc in 1988 and it has been reissued a number of times since. It is currently available with bonus tracks. The original cast recording had the (currently in 2022) 10th longest run ever for any album in the Billboard 200 charts with 480 weeks. The leads of the Broadway cast re-recorded their parts for the London cast recording, which was made in stereo in 1959."

 

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Our friend, @Tsaraslondon graciously supplied an appropriate answer to your question but I didn't express myself as clearly in that original post as I would have liked - I was speaking more in terms of the cultural, and more specifically, the financial aspects of this particular recording rather than its being directed towards the specific (considerable) vocal abilities of Julie Andrews -

"The album became a massive seller, topping the charts on the US Billboard 200 for fifteen weeks at different times in 1956 (eight consecutive weeks), 1957, 1958, and 1959. It was the first LP record to sell 1 million copies.

In the UK, upon its release in 1958, the album reached No.1 for 19 consecutive weeks and became the biggest-selling album of the year.

Columbia's President, Goddard Lieberson provided the $375,000 needed to stage the show in return for the rights to the Cast recording. Columbia first reissued the album on compact disc in 1988 and it has been reissued a number of times since. It is currently available with bonus tracks. The original cast recording had the (currently in 2018) 5th longest run ever for any album in the Billboard 200 charts with 480 weeks. The leads of the Broadway cast re-recorded their parts for the London cast recording, which was made in stereo in 1959."

If I recall correctly, the London/stereo version was the first to appear on CD. Seems to me the Broadway/mono version was OOP for some time - but I could be wrong.

Columbia made a fortune on My Fair Lady. And Lieberson was a true friend to the Broadway musical. Among other things, he made sure the "flop" show Candide got an OBC recording (as he did later, for Sondheim's biggest flop, Anyone Can Whistle.) He released two versions of The Most Happy Fella, one with the best known music and a three-disc set with the entire show. That was (and may still be) available on CD. He came out of retirement to produce A Little Night Music after Capitol Records botched the recording of Follies. He also recorded a full version of the original Broadway cast of Waiting for Godot when very few people knew the name Samuel Beckett.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If I recall correctly, the London/stereo version was the first to appear on CD. Seems to me the Broadway/mono version was OOP for some time - but I could be wrong.

Columbia made a fortune on My Fair Lady. And Lieberson was a true friend to the Broadway musical. Among other things, he made sure the "flop" show Candide got an OBC recording (as he did later, for Sondheim's biggest flop, Anyone Can Whistle.) He released two versions of The Most Happy Fella, one with the best known music and a three-disc set with the entire show. That was (and may still be) available on CD. He came out of retirement to produce A Little Night Music after Capitol Records botched the recording of Follies. He also recorded a full version of the original Broadway cast of Waiting for Godot when very few people knew the name Samuel Beckett.
I would have inserted 'who weren't blessed with the great good fortune to be born Irish" - between "very few people" and "knew the name Samuel Beckett" - ;)
 

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I would have inserted 'who weren't blessed with the great good fortune to be born Irish" - between "very few people" and "knew the name Samuel Beckett" - ;)
Getting a bit off-topic, but I can't resist. Waiting for Godot had its U.S. premiere at Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse. It was marketed as “the laugh sensation of two continents,” and starred Bert (Cowardly Lion) Lahr as Estragon.

I guess the connection is that My Fair Lady, Candide, The Most Happy Fella, and Waiting for Godot all opened roughly within a year of one another. :)
 

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Getting a bit off-topic, but I can't resist. Waiting for Godot had its U.S. premiere at Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse. It was marketed as “the laugh sensation of two continents,” and starred Bert (Cowardly Lion) Lahr as Estragon.

I guess the connection is that My Fair Lady, Candide, The Most Happy Fella, and Waiting for Godot all opened roughly within a year of one another. :)
Replies - of any and all kinds - are always welcome - No one derails threads - even my own - with more alacrity than I do... :LOL:
 

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I've just seen this competition. What fun! I will give it my attention when I have time to listen, though I've a feeling nobody will supplant Julie Andrews in my affections, as I've known her performance ever since I was a boy.
Take your time - listen at your leisure - There will only be one of these contests per week - on Sundays - which should leave enough time for most people to listen to a tune a day and then makes their selections.

The cast recording will always be one of the five selections since that tends to be the one that has the most emotional resonance for us and consequently, it has a lead that can, and most often will be, insurmountable thus the decision to allow two selections to be made per contest - It allows the genuine sentiment which we experienced
in our younger days to make its selection while the preferences which we acquire with the benefits of age are free to make their selection.
 

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Well, Julie Andrews obviously. I can't think of this music without having her bell-like soprano and cut glass diction resounding in my mind's ear.

The other one that gave me the most pleasure was Barbara Hannigan. I just loved the arrangement that turned it into a Viennese waltz. If you are going to divorce a song from it's original setting, then this assuredly is the way to do it. It was just such fun. I feel sure Lerner and Loewe would have approved. Now I'm off to add the Barbara Hannigan album to my collection.
 

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Wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you....

I hope this is the first of many,

Great choices. As you've indicated you will often struggle to find a better interpretation than the original cast recording, but we shall see.

Show music's golden age coincided with the invention of electric recording microphones and The Radio both of which, which promoted an more intimate style of popular singer. The stars of the stage didn't need huge power to carry over an Opera orchestra and in performance they made sure the Lyric was heard and understood. In English words the vowels have less importance than in Italian (or French) and composers didn't build their tunes up under the Vowels. I've seen it said that even amongst Italian Opera fans they typically can't understand more than 1/3 of the Lyric. These are the reasons why the great interpreters of Show tunes tend NOT to be the most trained voices (at least to my ear)?

I'd never heard the Hannigan or the Fatma Said versions - indeed I was unaware of her - and they were the two most interesting alternatives (to me). But I am always struggling when trained Opera singers perform this repertoire because they just can't help themselves - they always favour 'expanding' the vowel sound in almost every word! Hannigan resists but its still a bit mannered for my taste. That arrangement is very clever as it makes this a more natural fit with it's lilt towards Operetta in Waltz time- where Lowe was coming from. Not saying they are poor, they're not; they're just are not what I think the song demands. I hadn't heard Julie Andrews version for a very long time and even though she shows a surprising amount of refinement and musical training, her performance sissles and must have been exactly what the composers hoped for as an example of the polish Higgins put on the ever vibrant Eliza. Indeed she's such a force it probably exceeded their hopes.

I would have sneaked in the Marnie Nixon vocal, as Films soon followed so they were often still associated with the original composers..

Seems to me with singers like Shirley Bassey you always know what to expect. If you love her it may be your favourite version, but I don't see her as a great interpreter.

At some point you are going to have to choose a 'jazzed up' alternative version? Ella recorded "Danced all night" , but stretches and downplays the melody. As Richard Rogers always said "Why can't they just play what we wrote?" But there are some of his songs, particularly the early ones, that I believe were improved as instrumentals. We shall see.

Another interesting thread will be when the Song is a well covered tune from "The Great American Songbook", but the show and hence the original recording aren't .

Stars did have shows written for them. Ethel Merman had Cole Porter to thank for "Blow Gabriel Blow" in Anything Goes and Irving Berlin wouldn't have done Call Me Madam without her. Ditto Mary Martin, was always intended for South Pacific. And some acts demanded speciality no's. Ukulele Ike may be best know to us for his Vocal on "When you Wish upon a star", but he was one of the biggest stars on Broadway in the 30's. So powerful he had his contracts specify that he had to be off stage in time to catch the last train to his upstate home. In one show he introduced "Singing in the Rain". That version may not get the most votes!

Someone asked about Opera and whether material was written for the stars? Yes it was but sadly recording technique developed to late for us to enjoy what could arguably have been the definitive performances developed with the composer.
17 years later and with a Piano accompaniment this is nothing but a curio. We are blessed to have those Broadway soundtracks.



Finally I've made a note in the Diary on April 1 I will post a Topsy Turvy version of this thread!

Reading back, I hope I haven't been negative and put you off? Let the fun continue.
 

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Wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you....

Finally I've made a note in the Diary on April 1 I will post a Topsy Turvy version of this thread!

Reading back, I hope I haven't been negative and put you off? Let the fun continue.
You are more than welcome and allow me to thank you for your extraordinary response - It was quite overwhelming (in the best of ways) and you have my profound gratitude.

I was indeed planning on introducing a "Songbook Sing-Off" version of this thread in the future but I wanted to wait until I could gauge the level of interest in this one before proceeding. Once this thread has legs, I'll introduce the alternative version.

You are, of course, more than welcome to post your version of this thread - All I ask is that you choose a different title as a way to clearly differentiate one from the other.

Again, my compliments on your reply and my thanks for your kind words and encouragement!

Cheers!
 

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"I was indeed planning on introducing a "Songbook Sing-Off" version of this thread in the future but I wanted to wait until I could gauge the level of interest in this one before proceeding. Once this thread has legs, I'll introduce the alternative version."

It's your idea so fine with whatever you decide but...I'd say 75%+ of The Great American Songbook is from the shows.

Soundtrack Albums didn't really exist until the post war innovation the Long Player. So the works of the Gershwin's, Rogers and Hart etc were better known as individual songs. The Ella Fitzgerald "Songbooks" are a good case in point, I don't think they included any information about where the songs came from. But the writers all started out on Broadway.

So my point is they (mostly) ARE Showtunes even if its often the case that most people don't realise it. (and I also wouldn't be too fussy about separating Songs those guys wrote for the Movies - but that's just MO)
 

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"I was indeed planning on introducing a "Songbook Sing-Off" version of this thread in the future but I wanted to wait until I could gauge the level of interest in this one before proceeding. Once this thread has legs, I'll introduce the alternative version."

It's your idea so fine with whatever you decide but...I'd say 75%+ of The Great American Songbook is from the shows.

Soundtrack Albums didn't really exist until the post war innovation the Long Player. So the works of the Gershwin's, Rogers and Hart etc were better known as individual songs. The Ella Fitzgerald "Songbooks" are a good case in point, I don't think they included any information about where the songs came from. But the writers all started out on Broadway.

So my point is they (mostly) ARE Showtunes even if its often the case that most people don't realise it. (and I also wouldn't be too fussy about separating Songs those guys wrote for the Movies - but that's just MO)
The original LP liner notes for many (all?) of Ella's songbooks identified the source. For the Rodgers and Hart Songbook, the notes stated that "Blue Moon" was the only song Rodgers and Hart wrote that wasn't intended for a show or film. A quick look at Wikipedia confirms my recollection that it originally had a different lyric, intended for a movie but not used. Rodgers wrote:

"One of our ideas was to include a scene in which Jean Harlow is shown as an innocent young girl saying—or rather singing—her prayers. How the sequence fitted into the movie I haven't the foggiest notion, but the purpose was to express Harlow's overwhelming ambition to become a movie star ('Oh Lord, if you're not busy up there,/I ask for help with a prayer/So please don't give me the air.')"
 

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"I was indeed planning on introducing a "Songbook Sing-Off" version of this thread in the future but I wanted to wait until I could gauge the level of interest in this one before proceeding. Once this thread has legs, I'll introduce the alternative version."

It's your idea so fine with whatever you decide but...I'd say 75%+ of The Great American Songbook is from the shows.

Soundtrack Albums didn't really exist until the post war innovation the Long Player. So the works of the Gershwin's, Rogers and Hart etc were better known as individual songs. The Ella Fitzgerald "Songbooks" are a good case in point, I don't think they included any information about where the songs came from. But the writers all started out on Broadway.

So my point is they (mostly) ARE Showtunes even if its often the case that most people don't realise it. (and I also wouldn't be too fussy about separating Songs those guys wrote for the Movies - but that's just MO)
Superb advice that I would be a fool to disregard and so "Showtunes Sing-Off" it stays without introducing that second thread - I really just wanted to extend the concept so that I could also use tunes that were not necessarily associated with a specific Broadway musical but I'm not going to let convention stand in the way of a concept that seems to have much promise.

My thanks to everyone who has taken the time to provide the advice and guidance needed to ensure the success of the thread! - It took all of a day for me to realize that this is indeed a thread that has an audience.
 
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