Latest Free Download
The Victor Light Opera Company Discography
By John R. Bolig
Victor’s “Gems from…” discs were among the first records many of us encountered as budding young collectors. Like them or not, they were still seemingly everywhere. Even now, you’re bound to run across them if you scrounge enough estate sales, junk shops, and !!RARE !!L@@K!! eBay listings.
They had been tremendous sellers, capitalizing on a popular American phenomenon of the day — grand opera sung in English by troupes of competent, if not-quite-stellar, artists. As the twentieth century began, countless small civic and private opera companies were making the glories of Verdi and Puccini accessible to the far-flung general public at affordable prices and in a language most could understand, just as the “Gems from…” series would do.
But Victor went a step farther, adding medleys from the latest hit Broadway shows that the average American was unlikely to be able to attend in person. In the process, the good folks at Victor unwittingly preserved many now-forgotten songs (albeit it in abridged versions, and sometimes taken at break-neck tempos) that otherwise went unrecorded. The company had no qualms about using stage shots from the actual productions, picturing the actual stars (who almost never performed on the records), in advertising new “Gems” releases.
The Victor Light Opera Company was a fiction, of course. It never staged any live productions, and it never appeared in public. Its “cast” members — mainly Victor’s studio work-horses — changed from one recording session to another and (with one notable exception) were not credited on the labels. But their names are preserved in the Victor ledgers and, thanks to John Bolig’s expert sleuthing and generosity in sharing his work, are now available to you in this unique publication. Enjoy!
Victor monthly supplement excerpts, courtesy of John Bolig