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October 6, 2011

Some favorite interpretations of the 'South Pacific' hit parade

The arrival of "South Pacific" at the Hippodrome has had my head filled again with the great songs from that Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

The score is packed with superbly crafted words and music, always in service to the plot. Hearing in them in context is wonderful, of course, especially in the revival brilliantly conceived by Bartlett Sher (the production now in Baltimore is the second national tour).

But the songs from this show have long enjoyed a life outside the theater, and I thought I'd share a few of the many interpretations that have left an impression on me.

I'll begin with a remarkable pop singer who ...

put a haunting stamp on "Some Enchanted Evening" back in the 1970s, Jane Olivor. Next, some cool studio video of Frank Sinatra recording "Younger Than Springtime." I'm not sure it can be sung any better. You knew I would have to work Barbra into this, and I did, attaching her in-concert version of "A Cockeyed Optimist."



Posted by Tim Smith at 10:24 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


One of Ms. Olivor's greatest performances. But there's nothing like being in the audience for one of her shows. I wish she would could be persuaded to perform again.

Couldn't agree more. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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