Adolphe Adam: Le Postillon de Lonjumeau
Michael Spyres (Chapelou/Saint-Phar), Florie Valiquette (Madeleine/Madame de Latour), Franck Leguérinel (Le marquis de Corcy), Laurent Kubla (Biju/Alcindor), Michel Fau (Rose), Yannis Ezziadi (Louis XV), Julien Clément (Bourdon), accentus, Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen Normandie, Sébastien Rouland (conductor), Michel Fau (stage director), Emmanuel Charles (set designer), Christian Lacroix (costume designer), Joël Fabing (lighting designer), Pascale Fau (make-up designer), François Roussillon (video director)
A co-production by the Opéra Comique and François Roussillon et Associés with participation of France Télévisions and medici.tv with support of the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Opéra Comique, Paris (April 5 and 7, 2019) – 137’
Naxos 2110662 (or Blu-ray NBD 0112V) – Format 16:9 – PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 – Region 0 – Booklet in English and French – Subtitles in French, English, German, Japanese and Korean
Best known for the ballet, Giselle (1841), Adolphe Adam’s outreach also encompassed close to 70 operas. His urbanity, highly approachable and soft-centered, was tinged by demure glances of dramatic heft and mood…nothing outrageous. And while Adam’s first and relatively obscure Le Chalet was resuscitated in 2016, both on stage and on a Timpani recording, this paved way to his most successful opéra comique, Le Postillon de Lonjumeau. Michel Fau’s reverence to Rameau and his cherished tenor, Pierre Jélyotte, act as a super backdrop. Predictably, Christian Lacroix’s outpourings are colorfully apropos as complemented by Emmanuel Charles’ ornately two-dimensional sets. When these disciplines are combined with make-up by Pascale Fau and the sepia-drenched lighting by Joël Fabing, the illumination has richly Rococo Louis XV pronouncements. This adds sizeable investments to the opera’s already insanely accentuated frivolities and inane plotline.
Michael Spyres has sharpened his career inside bel canto and French opera. The Missourian perfectly molds the coachman into over-affectations and unbridled egoism. Adam's music generally lays well within his tessitura, although the high notes abruptly “blast” and come out of nowhere. Nonetheless, we are charmed by his exemplary antics and pleasing demeanor…one can’t help but embrace his Saint-Phar. Florie Valinquette’s quick tongue gives Madeleine some feisty bites as she exacts retribution on Chapelou while disguised as Madame de Latour…her craft is phenomenal, and the acting is sharp, plus her soprano timbre slips into Adam's notes like a velvet glove. While Franck Leguérinel chews the scenery a bit too much as the buffoonish Marquise de Corcy, Laurent Kubla’s Biju provides a counterpunch as the jilted wheelright, venturing right behind Chapelou to the Paris Opéra under the façade of Alcindor. Michel Fau wears two hats, not only in a superbly well-executed staging but also dressing up in garb as the laconic maid, Rose…hilarious!
Continually moving scrims heighten the theatrical experience. This also enhances the beauty of Adam’s punchy music while being pushed along by Sébastien Rouland’s persnickety conducting. Le Postillon de Lonjumeau wouldn’t be such a success without accentus’ firm choral passages.
Adolphe Adam’s operas are an infrequent event; therefore, the visit inside François Roussillon’s video capture after ConcertoNet reviewed the live production back in 2019, makes Le Postillon de Lonjumeau a virtual winner on every front. Here we find early 19th century comic French opera in the grandest of proportions. Whimsical fun. Strongly recommended!