News that Broadway’s Tony Awards will head uptown on Sunday to the sumptuous United Palace (a few blocks from where I live) made me remember Stephen Sondheim’s swell song mentioning Washington Heights…

…which then prompted Chris’s Cache to dig out two opera-house versions of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd featuring Bryn Terfel / Judith Christin and Thomas Allen / Felicity Palmer.

Sweeney is currently on Broadway in a revival nominated for eight Tonys starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford. Since tickets to that show at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater are wickedly expensive, I’ve been regularly entering the Broadway Direct lottery which offers $30 tickets to every performance.

Ten days ago, I won (!) which landed me in the front row four feet behind the conductor.

I’ve been an Ashford fan, but I really knew nothing about Groban other than his casting caused a big uproar when it was announced last year. It was my fifth live Sweeney and the pair worked together beautifully, and I enjoyed it immensely. I did wonder what all the shrieking Groban fans behind me were making of the bloody romp; it struck me more than ever what a magnificent opera it is. The two productions on today’s Chris’s Cache demonstrate that important opera companies have agreed.

A previous Sweeney encounter of mine featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski appeared on a Trove Thursday installment three years ago.

Sondheim: Sweeney Todd

Mrs. Lovett: Judith Christin
Johanna: Celena Shafer
Beggar Woman: Sheri Greenawald
Sweeney Todd: Bryn Terfel
Anthony Hope: Nathan Gunn
Tobias Ragg: David Cangelosi
Judge Turpin: Timothy Nolen
Beadle Bamford: Matthew Lord
Pirelli: Bonaventura Bottone
Jonas Fogg: Roger Honeywell

Conductor: Paul Gemignani

Lyric Opera of Chicago
27 November 2002
In-house recording

Sondheim: Sweeney Todd

Mrs. Lovett: Felicity Palmer
Johanna: Rebecca Evans
Beggar Woman: Rosalind Plowright
Sweeney Todd: Thomas Allen
Anthony Hope: William Dazeley
Tobias Ragg: Doug Jones
Judge Turpin: Jonathan Veira
Beadle Bamford: Robert Tear
Pirelli: Bonaventura Bottone
Jonas Fogg: Matthew Rose

Conductor: Paul Gemignani

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
17 December 2003

Each Sweeney Todd can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.