Having loved Gilbert and Sullivan since my introduction to the Savoy Operas when I was a schoolboy, I've recently become devoted to the operettas of Jacques Offenbach. He was much more prolific than Sullivan, but from what I have heard, even his "lesser" (or less well known) works, have tremendous appeal and, from a purely musical point of view at any rate, are absolutely superb.
"Vert-Vert" is one of these lesser known works, but this recording, made in 2008, contains a series of charming vocal numbers, including some especially interesting ensembles.
The operetta was first performed in 1869, at a time when the composer was well established as the master of opera-bouffe. It was inspired by a famous poem written in 1734 by one Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gresset, concerning a parrot (!) who, having been brought up in a convent, goes badly off the rails before being weaned back to the paths of righteousness.
Although the titular parrot passes away before the start of Offenbach's work, it is his replacement in the hearts and minds of the young ladies of the educational establishment in which the operetta is set who takes on his name and who represents the theme of sheltered innocence.
In this recording, the role is taken by the tenor Toby Spence and very fine he is too. Indeed, all the cast do well; Jennifer Larmore offers a star cameo as the diva La Corilla, while Mark Le Brocq is an amusing Binet. The spoken dialogue is dispatched with style and relish, although just occasionally the native French speakers rather show up the non-francophone members of the cast.
David Parry conducts lovingly and, as ever with Opera Rara recordings, the accompanying booklet is as lavish as it is informative.
This is a recording (and a work) well worth discovering.