Just because I believe Utopia is probably the worst of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas does not mean that I do not like it. I love it! It just isn't as great as, say, Ruddigore or Patience. "Bold fac'd ranger" is among the greatest contralto songs of the canon.
Overall, this recording is adequate, the sound being only so-so. While better than The Zoo's recorded quality, it doesn't come up to the standard of the 1960 sets. It is too bright and lacks atmosphere.
John Reed and John Alydon make a fine pair of villains as Scaphio and Phantis respectfully, even if Reed has a tendency to be more abrasive than usual. The singing of the Flowers of Progress is variable. Most do well enough, even if Colin Wright and James Conroy-Ward have odd voices.
Lyndsie Holland has an uncomfortable higher range. I don't know if this is because of the recording or what, but it somewhat mars her duets with Kenneth Sandford as Paramount. Sandford, though definitely past his prime, still acquits himself well as King Paramount. "Society has quite forsaken" is very successful, even if Sandford doesn't always seem comfortable with his E's.
Pamela Field as Zara is excellent, matched well by Meston Reid as Captain Fitzbattleaxe. The former is one of the few D'Oyly Carte sopranos whose voice resembled Valerie Masterson, the latter one of the most interesting D'Oyly Carte tenors to appear on record. The balance tends to favor him for some inexplicable reason: this would be unforgivable except that he sings Fitzbattleaxe very well.
All is not well in "Eagle high." The balance of the recording is messed up or something. The acoustics seem cramped and stuffy.
That said, the Act I Finale goes admirably and overall, this recording can be recommended with at least some enthusiasm, as it presents one of Gilbert and Sullivan's rarest operas in a more or less complete form. (We receive the shorter form of "Ah, gallant soldier brave and true," no great loss.) This recording contains no dialogue except for two 17 second clips in Act II and the complete dialogue preceding the finale.
The three fillers are enjoyable orchestral works by Sullivan. The Macbeth Overture, the most interesting of the three, is perhaps too jovial for the program material but still finely crafted. This is a worthy addition to any Gilbert and Sullivan collection!