Carousel / O.B.C.
Carousel may have been one of Rodgers & Hammerstein's least popular shows at the time, but it's now considered one of the duo's most compelling offerings, and there are plenty of good recordings to choose from. Nicholas Hytner's much-praised production originated in London (with a cast album available on RCA/Victor) before successfully opening at Lincoln Center in New York. The CD's nicely illustrated booklet gives a fair idea of Bob Crowley's spectacular sets and costumes, which went a long way in helping Hytner reinvent the show (he got rid of "The Highest Judge of All," for instance). The American cast (only Michael Hayden's Billy Bigelow appeared in both cities) is as good as it gets, with special kudos going to Audra McDonald and her heavenly "Mister Snow." The original recording may have historical value, but this one's artistically and vocally top-notch.