CD Review: JANE EYRE, The Original Austrian Cast Recording
Charlotte Brontë's great love story is here reiterated with soaring music with a strong through composed score by Paul Gordon, and a book by John Caird (Les Miserables original co-director). The score is truly a beautiful, haunting and is sadly part of the "forgotten" scores of Musical Theatre.
This tale of secrets and the lies that secrets create, of unimaginable hope and unspoken passion, reminds us what it is to fall deeply, truly and completely in love. Nominated for five Tony Awards, Jane Eyre explores religion, sexuality and protofeminism.
Jane's story begins in Gateshead, where she is in the unfortunate care of her cruel Aunt Sarah and cousin, John, as per her uncle's dying wish. The miserable young orphan is finally rescued when she is sent away to attend Lowood School for Girls. After six years, Jane leaves Lowood and is shortly after hired as a governess at Thornfield Hall. Here, she meets Mr. Edward Rochester, thus beginning her passionate and heart-wrenching journey of love, loss and the struggles of morality.
Jane Eyre had its world premiere at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in late 1996. The musical then had a pre-Broadway try-out at La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego, California in the summer 1999.The musical debuted on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on November 9, 2000, with an official opening on December 10, 2000 and closed on June 10, 2001 after 36 previews and 209 performances.
This recording is of the 2018 Austrian production, which had a limited run earlier this year at stadttheater Gmunden. Starring Elisabeth Sikora and Yngve Gåsøy Romdal. Directed by Markus Olzinger, with Caspar Richter serving as musical director.
This is the first recording of the entire score. It is presented complete with all dialogue intact, reminiscent of the London recording of Jason Robert Brown's Parade, the big difference is that it is recorded live.
All the tiny imperfections are present, such as coughing in the audience, sounds of the orchestra turning pages and some minor performance mistakes by the cast. Most notably the harmonies sung by the children during the end of Kinder von Gott /Children of God. But all these minor imperfections are a natural part of a live recording and gives a truer sense of an actual performance.
Both the English recordings of the score has a running time of just over 1 hour, while this double disc edition has close to 2,5 hour of music. And there is plenty of music here that is not present on past releases. To finally get the entire score recorded is fantastic.
There are three performers that need to be accentuated in this review. The first being Elisabeth Sikora, who gives a strong warm portrayal of Jane Eyre. Her voice is soft yet powerful when it is called for in the the higher register. Yngve Gåsøy Romdal is Edward Rochester to wonderful effect. He has a very soothing timbre in his voice, and sounds very much as the man betrayed by his feelings, but who falls for his governesses and discovers the meaning of true love. Finally, Carin Filipcic is a welcomed comical releif in all this gloom. A very fun Mrs. Mrs. Fairfax.
Since all dialogue is included this recording sounds like an audio drama, and this adds to the experience. This recording does not surpass the Broadway Cast recording in quality, but it is a great addition for its completeness and that it is live.