Charles Lecocq: La Fille de Madame Angot
Anne-Catherine Gillet (Clairette), Véronique Gens (Mademoiselle Lange), Mathias Vidal (Ange Pitou), Artavazd Sargsyan (Pomponnet), Matthew Lécroart (Larivaudière), Antoine Philippot (Louchard), Ingrid Perruche (Amaranthe, Hersilie, Javotte, Babette), Flannan Obé (Trénitz, Guillaume, Buteux), David Witczak (an incroyable, an officer, cadet), Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Chœur du Concert Spirituel, Sébastien Rouland (conductor)
Recording: Auditorium de La Seine Musicale (February 16-20, 2021) – 110’27
Bru Zane BZ1046 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Book in French and English
Credited by a strong libretto penned by the tripartite of Charles Clairville, Paul Siraudin and Victor Konig, Charles Lecocq was able to manage the music for La Fille de Madame Angot without much fussiness. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) Parisian Lecocq moved to Brussels where he premiered three more works, Les Cents vierges and La Fille de Madame Angot in 1872, followed by Giroflé-Girofla in 1874, to great acclaim. Lecocq’s Angot then returned to the Théâtre des Folies-Dramatiques on February 21, 1873 with tremendous enthusiasm, so much so, that the opérette then had a full run of 411 consecutive performances.
The backdrop and timeline places La Fille de Madame Angot during the Directory (1795-1799), a time of tumultuous transition in France. Consistently pristine and aligned in firm detail, Anne-Catherine Gillet slips into the role of Clairette Angot, daughter of Madame Angot, an arriviste who made a name for herself among the market of Les Halles. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Clairette is swept up into a mélange of intrigues, scandals and mêlées that involve historical figures, including actress and anti-government activist Mademoiselle Lange (Véronique Gens), activist Ange Pitou (Mathias Vidal) and politician Paul Barras (although he never appears in the operetta).
Under the percipient direction of Sébastien Rouland, La Fille de Madame Angot is clean as a whistle. Lecocq’s music, brilliantly pithy and economic, spares any outrageous drivel. Consistent in vocal quality, Anne-Catherine Gillet sings limpidly with a flexible tessitura to make her sassy character come to life. Those Angot aficionados who’ve grown up to enjoy EMI Classics’ 1971 recording featuring Mady Mesplé’s rendition will find Mlle Gillet’s timbre equally chirpy, possessing a tad darker complexion, yet maintaining a velvety softness and richness. Véronique Gens’ tone quality beautifully matches the requirements of Mademoiselle Lange; Artavazd Sargsyan’s Pomponnet is animated and sparkly while Ingrid Perruche’s soprano voice paints a colorful picture of Amarante along with her other sundry characters. No one can match the recognizable expressions by Mathias Vidal as he carries his Ange Pitou with firm detail. Equally strong and vibrant are supporting roles of Matthieu Lécroart as Larivaudière, Antoine Philippot’s Louchard and the multi-minor lines sung by Flannan Obé and David Witczak.
As quoted on the back cover of the book, “The Palazzetto Bru Zane here presents the first recording of the original version, with its unusual orchestration and several numbers that have fallen into oblivion.” Agreed. Striking from this reviewer’s angle is that M. Rouland takes some unexpected shifts in tempo and musical punctuation that adds a certain mark of freshness and vivacious expression to the recording. Highly recommended.
Bru Zane Website