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Thread: Offenbach on DVD and blu-ray

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    Default Offenbach on DVD and blu-ray



    Hilarious and winning performance from Dessay. As a relative newcomer to opera, I find this dvd nearly ideal - relatively short running time, a more modern pacing and sensibility compared to most Classical operas, extremely modern staging, and with at least one song that everyone, no matter how ignorant of opera, knows ... and a duet that everyone, no matter how stodgy, will find hilarious. I've successfully used Duo de la Mouche to get a friend of mine, who was convinced opera was stuffy and not for him, interested in exploring a bit more

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Default Offenbach on DVD and blu-ray



    I had a rush of blood to the head and got this Contes d'Hoffmann from Geneva, directed by Oliver Py. Seriously creepy. I liked the way it brought out the darkness of the opera. (I remember the first time I saw the piece - I had been expecting some frothy entertainment and it was all death and mockery.)

    On first impressions I can say:

    Good things:
    Patricia Petitbon as Olympia. Quite surprisingly vulnerable singing, different from the usual robot doll rendition.
    The muse/Nicklaus. Her role as the advisor who is waiting for Hoffmann to come back to his poetical calling was very clear.

    Bad stuff
    A very dark confusing set, stair cases and revolving rooms, and everything black.
    The Giulietta. Didn't like her voice.

    Weird stuff:
    False pubes
    Universal Louise Brooks wigs

    My favourite version of Hoffmann now is the recent Met production with Joseph Calleja in the title role (love Kathleen Kim as the cutest Olympia ever), with Domingo as a close second.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Offenbach: La Belle Hélène on DVD

    Offenbach's La Belle Hélène, with Felicity Lott, Françoise le Roux, Michel Senechal, and Yann Beuron, Laurent Naouri, Marie-Ange Todorovich (an all-French cast except for Lott) with Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble, and Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre, conducted by Marc Minkowski at the Châtelet. This is supposed to be a very good performance, so, I'm highly excited. And just by reading the track list, I'm laughing already - it will be very funny, I can tell.



    I'll be filling in my impressions as it plays.

    1. Overture - very light and delicate. This performance has an orchestra with 30 intruments which adds to the delicacy. OK, now Offenbach turns up the volume and gets into a rhythm. Wonderful!

    Act I
    2. Introduction: Ver tes autels, Jupin - Choral piece, very lively and delicious, with a nice alternation between male and female voices, and it gets jumpy and dancing at the end. Wow!
    3. Trop de fleurs - Recitatif. Very funny - Interflora, indeed!
    4. Choeur des jeunes filles: C'est le devoir des jeunes filles - soft lamentation, very melodic.
    5. Couplets d'Hélène: Amours divins - melancholic, very beautiful, growing to more dramatic tones, with the choeur echoing her disappointment while she sings - 'no more love, no more passion...' - then it turns comic - 'we must have love!'says Hélène, jumping up and down like a spoiled brat.
    6. Calchas, restez... Toujours, fille de Léda - recitatif - mixed up with a bit of singing. Calchas is a very funny fellow.
    7. Chanson d'Oreste - Au cabaret du labyrinthe - Spicy and with pizzazz! A quartet between Oreste, Calchas, and two gorgeous, scantily clad women. [I'll like this production for sure, LOL.] Wicked rhythm.
    8. Mesdemoiselles, voici le Calchas demandé - recitatif, with the same melody coming back once more.
    9. Monsieur? C'est vous le devin de Jupiter? - recitatif. Calchas reads Venus' letter, with beautiful strings in the background.
    10. Le jugement de Pâris - Au mont Ida, trois déesses - lovely tenor aria, very French, like a balade telling the story of the judgment, very in tune with Offenbach's style, reminds me of some others in Les Contes d'Hoffmann.
    11. Compliments, félicitations, bravo! - more recitatif. Very funny, while Hélène is gauging Pâris physical assets...
    12. Marche et couplets des rois: Voice les rois de la Grèce - spectacular chorus. Offenbach surely knows how to compose pleasant and enticing melodies!
    Very funny, with the two Ajax, Achilles, all with funny melodies, the funniest of them all being Menelaus. Wait, there's more, Agamemnon now comes by, the the
    Queen, and we get treated to more of the funny music.
    13. Rois et peuples de la Grèce, salut à vous! - recitatif. That's when we get to satiric references to the French emperor of the Second Empire (Yep, Napoleon III) and the nobles and their love for party games. That's also where we see Offenbach ridiculing Wagner's music in Tannhäuser which Menelaus calls "German music I commissioned for the ceremony" after it appropriately sounds awful. Pretty funny stuff!
    14. Finale: Gloire! Gloire au berger victorieux! Satiric stuff again, ridiculing majestic music in serious operas, and coloratura. L'Homme à la pomme, LOL!
    15. Ainsi vous êtes gentilhomme - Again good comedy with Hélène very flirtatious, with Menelaus looking like a fool, light orchestration.
    16. Les dieux décretent par ma voie. The light music gets dramatic again, with thunder and lightning, and Calchas sings what seems like an impressive aria, but it rapidly turns farcial again while they ship poor Menelaus to Crète so that Hélène can be alone with Pâris. Very funny scene of Hélène packing Menelaus clothes for the trip. Spectacular marching rhythm to send him out.

    My score for the first act: absolutely brilliant, A+!

    17. Entracte - beautiful orchestration. It's interesting to hear Offenbach delivering some seriously beautiful music in the middle of all this satiric material.

    Act II
    18. Choeur: O reine, en ce jour - beautiful, and as usual, turning comic pretty fast while Hélène considers different outfits - but it is a beautiful piece, no doubt about it.
    19. Mais enfin, Madame, vous n'allez pas rester comme ça! - recitatif.
    20. Invocation à Venus: On me nomme Hélène la blonde - pleasant, light piece, with very funny lyrics about women straying.
    21. Voilà! Ça va mieux! - recitatif. Very entertaining flirtatious interaction between the queen and Pâris.
    22. Marche de l'oie: Le voice, le roi des rois - Conventional. Nothing special.
    23. Laisse-moi, Bacchis, laisse-moi - recitatif. The pace is slowing down. I'm afraid I may like Act II less than Act I.
    24. Couplets: Je la vois, elle dort - excellent, romantic and funny at the same time. The high quality is back.
    25. Duo - C'est le ciel qui m'envoie - beautiful duet, which this production turns into something really hilarious, when a bunch of sheep come into the stage; the public can't help, they laugh copiously in the middle of the duet. Very good piece, which I listened in its entirety with a smile on my face, although it is a little lenghty.
    26. Ciel! Mon mari! - recitatif.
    27. Finale: À moi! Rois de la Grèce, à moi! Again, large ensemble, sort of carnival music, comic piece, less funny than the previous standards. It turns bizarre at the end.
    28. Ne criez pas, notre cher hôte - large ensemble once more. Interesting, with nice lyrics, but musically less remarkable, and even a little annoying at the end.
    29. Couplets: Je la vois, elle dort (listed, but they don't seem to repeat it, strange).

    My score for Act II: B+ - even though it is more melodious than Act I, there are some moments of slow pace and some over-lenghty parts.

    30. Entracte - nice, the Châtelet production has dancers in swimmsuits, for all tastes - beautiful women and handsome men. As usual, Offenbach's orchestration is delightful and very easy on the ears. Very funny choreography.

    Act III
    31. Choeur et chanson d'Oreste: Dansons, aimons, buvons, chantons! They are on the beach, more satiric stuff as Offenbach criticizes Napoleon III and his trips to the beach while France was falling apart. Very good sort of drinking song. Nice! Very creative and happy.
    32. L'eau est-elle bonne, bouillant Achille? - recitatif. Funny jokes about Achilles' tendon.
    33. Couplets: Là, vrai, je ne suis pas coupable - nice beat. Act III is going very well so far. This piece is extraordinary.
    34. Mais, ma Nénéne - recitatif.
    35. Trio Patriotique: Lorsque la Grèce est un champ de carnage - More satiric references to Offenbach's fellow musicians. This is to mock Rossini's Wilhelm Tell and next, Auber's La Muete de Portici. Extremely funny!
    36. Allons! Immolez-vous! More of the same, the satire continues. Agamemnon and Calchas continue to harass Menelaus so that he gives Hélène up, while Offenbach enjoys himself.
    37. Quand les dieux commandent - recitatif, funny again.
    38. Choeur: La galère de Cythère - beautiful choral piece. One would almost believe that this is opera seria (well, if not for everything else, LOL).
    39. Couplets de Pâris: Et tout d'abord, o vile multitude - More mocking of Rossini's Tell, with severely funny Tyrolean yodelling.
    40. Quelle tenue pour un augure! - recitatif.
    41. Finale: Elle vient! C'est elle! - A tipsy Hélène approaches, nice choral music again, followed by very satisfactory ensembles, and interesting melody while Pâris and Hélène leave. An excellent finale, with the kind of can-can music that is typical Offenbach.

    Act III score: A+

    Overall score: A. Very entertaining, delicious.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Was watching this great 13 track DVD with highlights of Dessays opera performances
    (be sure and turn on the commentary by Natalie for more cool info) and there were 3 different Tales of Hoffman segments, the final one was this 2000 performance with a chorus line of 15 ft tall Olympia dolls......too cool for words you must see it, you can skip ahead to 6:20 mark to see this exact segment

    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEf1dvHqxPk&feature=player_detailpage[/YT]

    I must have this performance but have never seen it for sale......

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Default La Belle Helene



    This a hilarious and sexy performance of this galloping operetta. Felicity Lott is an older woman disenchanted with her dreary husband who dreams of a love story where she is Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, and the plot tells of her escape with the attractive Paris. She is just brilliant, her French is near-perfect and she is very funny. Admittedly her voice is not what it once was but I'll forgive her because of the fun. Yann Beuron stands up well as the love interest (he can yodel too).

    The set moves from mythology through an archeological site to a modern Greek resort to comic effect. The staging has wonderful energy, lots of dancing and movement, very inventive.

    I first saw it on Classical TV and I'm glad I bought the DVD. I'll watch it when I need cheering up.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post


    This a hilarious and sexy performance of this galloping operetta. Felicity Lott is an older woman disenchanted with her dreary husband who dreams of a love story where she is Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, and the plot tells of her escape with the attractive Paris. She is just brilliant, her French is near-perfect and she is very funny. Admittedly her voice is not what it once was but I'll forgive her because of the fun. Yann Beuron stands up well as the love interest (he can yodel too).

    The set moves from mythology through an archeological site to a modern Greek resort to comic effect. The staging has wonderful energy, lots of dancing and movement, very inventive.

    I first saw it on Classical TV and I'm glad I bought the DVD. I'll watch it when I need cheering up.
    Yep, it's a good one!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    I have to say I saw the Met version of Hoffman on Sky Arts last night. I wasn't totally in love with like the classic Domingo version. I have to say I didn't think Netreko could match Cotrubas as Antonia and didn't think that he role particularly suited Calleja's voice and I have usually been impressed with each time I have seen him live both in Verdi (Boccanegra and a Requiem at the Proms). I saw Villazon in his prime do this role live and he was sensational.

    Also has there ever been a debate on which version of the opera to use in this forum? I personally like the way Covent Garden have the Antonia act as third as it adds more emotion at the end but I am aware that virtually the rest of the world has the Antonia act as second

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    Emotionally I think the journey of disenchantment from pure young girl to courtesan works better than the other way round. The Giulietta episode is so cruel and is what finally destroys Hoffmann's illusions and drives him back to the muse. But of course I'm sure there are good arguments for the other order too.
    Natalie

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    Default La Grande Duchess de Gerolstein



    Felicity Lott repeats her Belle Hélène cougar act, (but this time it's actually an integral part of the story), Yann Beuron plays the reluctant love interest and Sandrine Piau is the gawky village maiden. It's all a great romp in that rather hammy comedic style that is so prevalent in the French theatre, encouraged by what I can only describe as madcap staging by Laurent Pelly.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Mar-24-2011 at 21:09. Reason: A paragraph was removed at user's request
    Natalie

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    Look, I watched another opera! Or opéra-bouffe, I should say rather. Potato potato. Actually, come to think of it, this was actually a re-watch. But never mind. Let's get on with it.

    This time it was the 2007 La Vie Parisienne from Opéra de Lyon directed by Laurent Pelly. Also, there's video at the end.



    Plot-wise, this opera's not too good, really. It's mostly a comedy about good-looking people having fun, complete with a Swedish baron, a Swiss admiral and a glover and a bootmaker masquerading as a colonel's widow and a major respectively. For those wanting a more in-depth look into the plot, it should be possible to click here.

    I loved the staging for this opera. It's set in modern-day Paris, and there's nothing more to really say about it.

    There have been made some changes to the libretto, both the dialogue and the singing itself. The changes to the dialogue are done to make it more appropriate for the modern-day setting, and I didn't mind them too much. The changes to the singing is rather subtle, and the only thing I really noticed was the Baroness de Gondremark saying they would like to see Dessay in Don Pasquale and Bartoli in Le Sappeur. I found these changes rather charming.

    It is also worth mentioning that the entre'acte ballets were very delightful.

    The cast was almost totally French, except the American baritone Marc Callahan playing/singing the role of Bobinet and another American, tenor Jesus Garcia playing the part of the Brazilian. You could hear that Callahan especially was not a native French speaker, but it didn't really matter much.


    Playing the role of Raoul de Gardefeu, one of the two Parisian dandies of the opera, was Jean-Sébastien Bou. He was very funny in his dialogues and his singing was one of the best.

    In the role of the other Parisian Dandy, Bobinet, there is Marc Callahan. Aside from being rather good-looking and a good actor, his singing was rather good, bordering on average.

    As Métella, the object of seemingly everyone's affection, there was Maria Riccarda Wesseling. She only appears three times during the whole opera, and then only for rather short periods of time. Her singing wasn't really too ideal for the part, and I found it a bit too heavy.

    The Baron and Baroness of Gondremark, the noble Swedes let loose in Paris, were played by Laurent Naouri and Michelle Canniccioni respectively. When they first enter in act one, they are talking Swedish, a nice touch, although I must say it is quite possibly the worst Swedish I've ever heard. Naouri sings superbly and his acting is certainly no worse. Canniccioni doesn't spend as much time as her on-stage husband, who has at least two and a half acts dedicated to himself. Since she's not too much on stage, we don't really get to hear her sing too often, but she sings well.

    Gabrielle, Gardefeu's glover is played by Marie Devellereau. To me, she is really the stand-out performer in this opera. She is charming, funny and her singing is great. I especially enjoyed her "Je suis veuve d’un colonel" which was perfectly hilarious. Her "On va courir, on va sortir" was delightfully silly. Her duet and aria with Frick was also very funny indeed. So really, I enjoyed just about everything she did in this opera.

    Jean-Paul Fouchécourt played Frick, Gardefeu's bootmaker. His acting was thoroughly enjoyable and his singing was rather good. I did, however find his vibrato a bit too wobbly.

    The Brazilian was played by Jesus Garcia. I did find his character to be a bit over-the-top, especially in the last act when he starts waving guns around, but it was fun nonetheless. His singing is good, although he does have a tendency of being late, something that was especially apparent in his rondo.

    In short, the singers in this production aren't really the best, but they are good. Combined with a very funny production and very good acting, this is definitely one to get if Offenbach's operettas floats your boat.


    And I promised video at the end.
    The end of act 2, including Je suis veuve d'un colonel:
    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrpOD7w_q9I&feature=related[/YT]

    The end of act 3 with Laurent Naouri spinning on a table:
    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bj7LsIRvYg&feature=related[/YT]

    My favourite of the ballets:
    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud1mRKC4iug&feature=related[/YT]

    The song and dance spectacle that is the finale of act 4:
    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SybK01ZZsOk&feature=related[/YT]
    Last edited by Aksel; Apr-02-2011 at 23:49. Reason: Make it BOLD!

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aksel View Post
    In short, the singers in this production aren't really the best, but they are good. Combined with a very funny production and very good acting, this is definitely one to get if Offenbach's operettas floats your boat.
    I'm going on holiday in a couple of weeks time and this looks perfect for lazy relaxed watching. Thanks, Aksel!
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    I'm going on holiday in a couple of weeks time and this looks perfect for lazy relaxed watching. Thanks, Aksel!
    It so is. Catchy tunes, a rather hilarious and rather non-existing plot and a good-looking baritone. What more can you ask for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aksel View Post
    It so is. Catchy tunes, a rather hilarious and rather non-existing plot and a good-looking baritone. What more can you ask for?
    Nice review as usual, Aksel.
    The over-the-top Brazilian is also an update. This character wasn't as over-the-top in Offenbach's original operetta.

    I like this operetta very much, and I also like this performance, in spite of the fact that I generally disaprove of tampering with the original work. But this time, it wasn't too bad, and I can't say that I wasn't charmed with the Dessay and Bartoli reference.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Nice review as usual, Aksel.
    The over-the-top Brazilian is also an update. This character wasn't as over-the-top in Offenbach's original operetta.
    Thanks!

    I figured he wasn't. He just seems like some rich person that comes from Brazil. But turning him into a gangster wasn't such a bad idea either.

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post


    Felicity Lott repeats her Belle Hélène cougar act, (but this time it's actually an integral part of the story), Yann Beuron plays the reluctant love interest and Sandrine Piau is the gawky village maiden. It's all a great romp in that rather hammy comedic style that is so prevalent in the French theatre, encouraged by what I can only describe as madcap staging by Laurent Pelly.
    I got this yesterday for £7.99 from ROH shop in a sale.

    So far have only watched the first disc but I agree with Natalie & it's had me laughing out loud. Brilliant choreography and I love Général Boum.
    Ann

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