Cyrano

CyranoOriginal Broadway Cast, 1974 (A&M, 2LPs/Decca) 4 Stars (4 / 5) This musical, based on Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, boasts a wonderful translation and adaptation by Anthony Burgess, whose exquisitely poetic book and lyrics hew closely to his previously existing translation of the classic play. Also outstanding is the music of Michael J. Lewis — melodic, stirring, and well suited to the story, even if the orchestrations by Philip J. Lang fall short. Christopher Plummer gave one of his greatest performances as Cyrano, and though the quality of his singing voice is not great, it’s more than good enough for the type of songs Lewis and Burgess crafted for the character, which are far more dependent on acting ability than sheer vocal prowess.  On the other hand, Leigh Beery as Roxana (as the character’s name is spelled in the musical) is an excellent singer; her performance of “You Have Made Me Love” is, in fact, one of the finest renditions of a musical theater ballad ever recorded. This gorgeous, relatively unknown song is a gem as worthy of fame as “Some Enchanted Evening,” for it’s just as romantic and stirring. The cast recording, mixed like a 1960s pop album, has a tinny sound quality and lacks vibrancy. But it does include much of the show’s dialogue, magnificently acted by Plummer, who justly won a Tony Award for his performance. One can only hope that Cyrano will someday be revived with an actor of Plummer’s caliber in the leading role. — Gerard Alessandrini