It might seem an odd choice for the honor, but "Fiddler on the Roof" is undoubtedly the most beloved Broadway musical of the Sixties. The book by Joseph Stein is based upon the stories of Sholem Aleichem, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the songwriting team whose earlier Tony Award winning success "Fiorello!" certainly never suggested they could create something as wonderful as "Fiddler." Zero Mostel heads the cast as Tevye, the dairyman, with Maria Karnilova as Golde, his wife, who, with "Do You Love Me?" have the best love duet between two married people in musical history.
At the heart of the story are the efforts by Tevye to deal with the way God keeps presenting him with challenges, from needing to take care of a lame horse ("If I Were A Rich Man"), to getting his oldest daughter engaged to one man ("To Life") only to see her marry another ("Sunrise, Sunset"), and finally to leave the only home he has ever known to travel to America ("Anatevka"). Throughout it all Tevye tries to remain true to the traditions of his community ("Prologue--Tradition") and his faith ("Sabbath Prayer"). The cast features Beatrice Arthur as Yente the matchmaker ("The Rumor"), Austin Pendleton as Motel the tailor ("Miracle of Miracles"), Bert Convy as Perchik the student ("Now I Have Everything"), Joanna Merlin as the eldest daughter Tzeitel ("Matchmaker") and future opera star Julia Migenes as the second oldest daughter Hodel ("Far from the Home I Love").
I understand now from those who should know that Mostel butchers the pronunciation of anything not said or sung in English, but I have to admit that does not really detract from my enjoyment of this album; I do not pay attention to pronunciation when listening to opera either, so I am at least consistent. This CD version features two previously unreleased tracks, the "Wedding Dance" music (including the famous bottle dance) and "The Rumor," both of which are welcomed additions. Bottom line: If you own a dozen musicals on CD, then this is one of the ones that has to be in your collection