The roar of the crowd

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  October 13, 2009

Before the season officially began, Richard Conrad’s the Bostonians presented an “Art of Song” series at MIT’s Killian Hall, and the performance I caught was a gem. Conrad, soprano Debra Renz, tenor Thomas Morris, and bass Philip Lima, accompanied by pianist William Merrill, presented a nostalgic evening of operetta, which requires a perfect balance between heart-on-sleeve and tongue-in-cheek. It’s become a lost art, but everyone here “got” it. Who wouldn’t find irresistible such once-familiar delicacies as Victor Herbert’s “Toyland” and “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life,” or such naughty obscurities as Sigmund Romberg & Dorothy Fields’s hilariously suggestive “The Fireman’s Bride” (“They see what goes on/And yell, ‘Turn the hose on!’ ”) or Rudolf Friml & Otto Harbach’s “I Want To Marry a Male Quartet” — a 1915 idea perhaps still ahead of its time?

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article Kevin Owen was misidentified as Owen Young. The correction has been made above.

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