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Jacques Offenbach: La Périchole (1874 version)
Stéphanie d’Oustrac (La Périchole), Philippe Talbot (Piquillo), Tassis Christoyannis (Don Andrés de Ribeira), Eric Huchet (Don Miguel de Panatellas), Lionel Peintre (Don Pedro de Hinoyosa), Thomas Morris (Old Prisoner), Quentin Desgeorges (Second Notary), Julie Goussot (Guadelena, Manuelita), Marie Lenormand (Berginella, Frasquinella), Lucie Peyramaure (Mastrilla, Brambilla), Julia Wischniewski (Ninetta), Choir Les éléments, Martin Surot (chorus master), Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Julien Leroy (conductor), Valérie Lesort (stage director), Audrey Vuong (set designer), Vanessa Sannino (costume designer), Christian Pinaud (lighting designer), Yohann Têté (choreographer), Carole Allemand (puppets), François Roussillon (film director)
Recording: A co-production by Opéra-Comique and François Roussillon et Associés with participation of Olympia TV and medici.tv and support of the Centre national du cinema et de l’image animée, Opéra-Comique, Paris, France (May 17 and 19, 2022) – 138’42
Naxos 2.110756 (or Blu-ray NBD0168V) – NTSC 16:9 – PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 – Region 0 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Subtitles in French, English, German, Japanese and Korean

The team of Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, once again, joined forces with Jacques Offenbach in 1868 to concoct the delightful opéra-bouffe, La Périchole, yet at the time, the score was truncated to two acts. The 1874 three act version allows a bit deeper character development and humor with sexual entendres kept in check. Credit goes to Valérie Lesort and her team of whimsically opulent Vanessa Sannino costuming and by Audrey Vuong’s minimally sculpted Peruvian-outlined architecture. Because La Périchole is rife with dialogue, the musical numbers stand out in stronger fashion, especially when framed upon Yohann Têté’s choreography. The flashback pantomime, though relatively simple and demure, is rather inventive.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac’s La Périchole is outstanding: erring more with rough-edged, tomboyish mannerisms which reflect back to her days as Lazuli in 2014 in her visit to L’Etoile in Amsterdam. Her Peruvian character garners warmth and spunkiness while ridiculing her male amour, Piquillo (Philippe Talbot), the one who suffuses imagery of a dim light-bulb yet begs empathy and humility. Sparkling and perky, M. Talbot’s voice is filled with delicate warmth and sincerity.

It’s interesting to hear the baritone lightheartedness through the portals of Tassis Christoyannis. His domain inside Don Andrés de Ribeira (Viceroy of Peru) is rather reserved and amusingly restrained, as opposed to his staunchly firm and stoic/haughty breakouts in earlier roles such as Spiridion (Le Timbre d’argent of 2019), Ben-Saïd (Le Tribut de Zamora of 2018) and Counsellor de Thou (Cinq-Mars of 2015). Eric Huchet holds humorous royal sway as Don Miguel de Panatellas, alongside the more animated hand-chest thumping gestures by Lionel Peintre as Don Pedro de Hinoyosa. Spreading on more thickly with icing of bombastic hilarity is Thomas Morris’ narrations as the old prisoner.

Let’s not forget the puppets! Mlle Lesort, a puppet designer herself and close collaborator with the Opéra-Comique, has also teamed up with Carole Allemand in creating three alpacas who pop up behind the Viceroy’s prison bars in amusing, though endearing fashion.

Tall and lanky, Julien Leroy commands the Orchestre de chambre de Paris with finesse and exceptional control. Each “Entr’acte” is light and refreshing. Never does M. Leroy capitalize the music, rather, issues balance and pays great respect to Offenbach to create a “forever effervescence” inside the realm of the opéra-bouffe genre.

Offenbach enthusiasts will love this production. Exquisite and entertaining.

Christie Grimstad




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