|Jacques Offenbach: La Princesse de Trébizonde – Paul Daniel, Anne-Catherine Gillet, Antoinette Dennefeld, Katia Ledoux, Chirstophe Mortagne & Christope Homosexual – London Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Rara (Photograph Russell Duncan)|
Jacques Offenbach: La Princesse de Trébizonde; Anne-Catherine Gillet, Virginie Verrez, Christophe Homosexual, Antoinette Dennefeld, Josh Lovell, Katia Ledoux, Christophe Mortagne, Loïc Félix, Harriet Walter, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Daniel; Opera Rara at Queen Elizabeth Corridor
Reviewed by Florence Anna Maunders, 16 September 2022
Florence Anna Maunders enjoys a glowing revival of Offenbach’s late operetta with a Francophone solid
Offenbach’s operetta La Princesse de Trébizonde is a comparatively uncommon customer to UK theatres. It was revived final 12 months by New Sussex Opera [see Robert’s review] and now a brand new version from Opera Rara has prompted a recording and a live performance efficiency with Paul Daniel conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) with Anne-Catherine Gillet, Virginie Verrez, Christophe Homosexual, and Antoinette Dennefeld on the Queen Elizabeth Corridor on 16 September 2022 could hopefully change all that.
It absolutely is a disgrace that, exterior Orpheé and Hoffmann, the operettas of Jacques Offenbach are hardly ever carried out within the UK. Any listener possessing a passing familiarity with the ever-popular output of Victorian stalwarts Gilbert & Sullivan would instantly recognise that Offenbach’s works are reduce from the identical material, though maybe with slightly extra champagne sparkle and Parisian dazzle. In Opera Rara’s dashing new efficiency version of La Princesse de Trébizonde, stripping away all of the dialogue between the musical numbers (changed with a hilarious English narration) made the work even lighter on its toes. The evening-length three acts of the 1869 authentic had been condensed into simply over ninety minutes with out an interval and introduced with such joyous vitality that it felt like half that point.
|Jacques Offenbach: La Princesse de Trébizonde – Anne-Catherine Gillet, Virginie Verrez, Antoinette Dennefeld & Christophe Mortagne – London Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Rara (Photograph Russell Duncan)|
From the outset it was instantly clear that the viewers had been in for a glowing deal with of a night, as baton-less conductor Paul Daniel launched into the overture, giving the LPO’s principal woodwind gamers an opportunity to shine – a chance they seized upon with gusto, though beneath Daniel’s cautious, elegant and musical course, the remainder of the orchestra appeared decided to offer a well mannered, poised efficiency. With a considerably diminished instrumentation for this new performing version, a few of the authentic model’s steadiness issues had been alleviated, besides, with the orchestra onstage, slightly than buried in a pit, they wanted to point out some restraint in order to not cowl the singers. Daniel’s lengthy expertise with French orchestras and opera homes, and his familiarity with this repertoire seemed like a protected pair of palms, with finely managed tempi, pointed articulation, and exact punctuation from the percussion.
The uniformly Francophone solid appeared to offer the impression that they had been in London this night for time, not for a very long time. They did not have lots of room for motion across the modestly sized Queen Elizabeth Corridor stage, particularly with a big refrain taking over the tiered staging behind the orchestra, however they zipped round with vitality, ducking beneath every others’ arms, crossing the stage and popping up and down as required. With the elimination of all of the dialogue, the efficiency bounced quickly from choruses to arias, from duets to grand finales, with the end result that a few of the characterisation was misplaced for the sake of tempo. The worst casualty was Paola (silky-toned contralto Katia Ledoux) whose greatest strains and comical feedback are principally spoken within the authentic. And not using a solo aria to herself, her character by no means had a good probability to come back throughout. However, Prince Casimir (tenor Josh Lovell oozing class and charisma) – the closest factor this operetta has to a villain – had ample alternative to reveal his dastardly character each via his solos, and within the frequent ensembles.
Amusingly, the titular princess does not seem within the opera as a personality, for the reason that princess is a waxwork, which will get damaged very early within the story. The travelling participant, Zanetta, performed with seductive vitality by the Belgian soprano Anne-Catherine Gillet, is pressed into service to take the place of the star attraction. It isn’t lengthy till her disguise is penetrated by the love-struck Prince Raphaël – French mezzo Virginie Verrez in absolute high kind on this “trousers-role”. The remainder of the plot is an identical froth of full nonsense: the fairground entertainers win a fort in a lottery, a parade of huntsmen seem pursuing one another, a refrain of web page boys complain about guarding a waxworks museum, the entire solid and refrain get pleasure from a midnight feast, organize a farcical a three-way secret rendezvous and (in fact) conclude by celebrating a triple wedding ceremony after all of the secrets and techniques come out within the third act. All through the efficiency, this ridiculous plot was expounded by Harriet Walter, a reputation in all probability extra acquainted to viewers of the small display screen, slightly than the stage, who delivered the narration (a witty summary of the motion, written and translated by the ridiculously polymathmatical Jeremy Sams – no stranger to the world of operetta himself). She was clearly having a wonderful time, as she launched the singers and their characters, hilariously described the motion of every scene, after which sat again to let the music occur.
Because the night proceeded, the orchestra, refrain and solid appeared to fall beneath the spell of Harriet Walter’s narration. As she advert libbed and extemporised, it appeared that the stays had been loosened, the hair let down, and all of a sudden, the politeness dropped out of the efficiency and inspired by a sold-out QEH viewers, everybody on stage began having huge enjoyable, from the six characterful standout refrain members enjoying the pageboys on the again, via the orchestra, to the principal solid on the entrance. Even Paul Daniel was tempted to push the tempi a bit quicker, to carry the fermatas a bit longer, and to slide his tight management to permit his solid extra room to play with the music. The highpoint of all this silliness, the “toothache” aria within the third act, introduced matches of giggles to the viewers, who had been equally delighted by the comedian mixture of Christopher Mortagne as butler-turned-circus performer Tremolini and Christophe Homosexual because the hopelessly optimistic showman Cabriolo. After a rousing last refrain of “Zing growth la la growth!”, the identical delight was mirrored throughout the faces on the stage. A uncommon look in London, however a welcome one to make sure.
Reviewed by Florence Anna Maunders
|Jacques Offenbach: La Princesse de Trébizonde – Harriet Walter – London Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Rara (Photograph Russell Duncan)|
Paul Daniel (conductor), London Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Rara Refrain are Anne-Catherine Gillet as Zanetta (soprano); Virginie Verrez as Le Prince Raphael (mezzo-soprano); Christophe Homosexual as Cabriolo (baritone); Antoinette Dennefeld as Régina (mezzo-soprano); Josh Lovell as Le Prince Casimir (tenor); Katia Ledoux as Paola (mezzo-soprano); Christophe Mortagne as Trémolini (tenor); and Loïc Félix as Sparadrap (tenor). Actress Dame Harriet Walter seems alongside because the narrator.
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