Death Takes a Holiday (music and lyrics by Maury Yeston) draws on Albert Casella’s 1924 Italian play La Morte in Vacanza about the Grim Reaper (Kevin Early) taking human form to spend a weekend at a lakeside villa where he falls in love with one Grazia Lamberti (Jill Paice). Yeston’s lyrics are smart, his pop-operatic music lush, especially enrobed as it is in Larry Hochman’s luxuriant orchestrations. I didn’t see the show in its Off-Broadway run, but I heard that it was beautiful but somewhat static. I can hear that from the score – beauty by no means guarantees dramatic power, in fact it often gets in the way. That’s less of a problem when you enjoy a score’s purely musical charm, which Death Takes A Holiday has in abundance. On CD it’s a delicious, somewhat relaxing experience, full of melody and musical intelligence. Not totally to my own taste, but undeniably a pleasurable listen.
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