With a Lotta Bit of Luck
I posted a recording here the other day from the Spanish original cast recording of the musical Barnum. Today, we have another Spanish-language version of an American musical, this from Mi Bella Dama -- the original Mexican cast recording of My Fair Lady.
I have four different, international companies of My Fair Lady and after listening to them have made an observation.
(Actually, it's five international companies, but the British cast recording is essentially exactly the same as the original show on Broadway. The album got widely released in the United States, and many people likely think it's the original Broadway production, but it's not. What happened is the original Broadway recording -- one of the biggest selling albums ever at the time -- was recorded only in mono. When Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, Stanley Holloway, Robert Coote -- as Col. Pickering --and some others from Broadway came over to London's West End, they recorded that production in stereo, which was now available to do, and released it in America, as well. It sounds almost the same, although close-listening can tell the difference. The way anyone can visually tell the difference is that the stereo version's cover is in gold. But I digress...)
Anyway, the observation I made is that while actors and actresses who play Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle differ widely from nation to nation, with varying degrees of getting the characterizations spot-on -- every country in the world (and perhaps universe) seems to have at least one old guy who's like a former crusty vaudevillian who can nail the role of Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle perfectly.
In this case, it's Mario Alberto Rodriguez, who sings "Con Un Poquitin," -- or "With a Little Bit of Luck." But that's not the main reason I chose this song. Rather, it's because of "luck," as well, but a different kind.
When I came across the album several years back, I was pleased simply to have the Mexican recording of the show for my collection. I didn't pay much attention to the cast -- after all, I didn't know the stars, and certainly didn't figure to know any of the small, supporting players. Not only because the actors were from another country, but also since it had been recorded half a century earlier, in 1958. Then, one day, I was browsing through the song list and glancing at the names of the performers.
Now, if you've ever seen My Fair Lady (or even Mi Bella Dama), you know that the character of Alfred Doolittle has two buddies who go around with him almost everywhere, they're sort of an inseparable trio, and the two pals basically serve as background singers who provide harmony.
That's when, luckily, I noticed that one of the buddies was played by a seriously-young, wet-behind-the-ears -- Placido Domingo! The now-renowned opera star was perhaps 17 years old at the time, far younger than the role calls for, but I just have to guess that the producers just might have thought his voice trumped that. Gee, go figure. It's hard to say that you can exactly make out it's him in the song, but whenever the buddies join in, it's absolutely clear that there's a booming tenor voice singing above the rest, and it does have his resonance. Plus, there are a couple of brief, solo, spoken moments. (At the 15-second mark, it does sound like it's his voice saying, "Si, senor.") Whether that's him or not, I don't know. But it is Placido Domingo there. Con un poquitin.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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