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Jacques Offenbach - La grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein [DVD]  
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Jacques Offenbach - La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein DVD starring Felicity Lott
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Admittedly this music is not as recognisable as Orpheus or La Belle Helene although there are some great foot tapping tunes, the usual patter songs and at no time does the music ever become turgid or drift aimlessly. Casting is superb, with Yann Beuron putting in his finest performance to date and wonderful singing from Felicity Lott. Also notable are the grotesque make up jobs on many of the characters.
I love this production and sincerely hope you will to. One final word, look out for the hilarious slapstick dance sequence between the 3rd and 4th tableau.
The Duchess herself is portrayed by the magnificent Felicity Lott who holds centre stage throughout with a swagger and lilt of boredom with her tiresome position as head of the nation, excellently sung. All of the characters are little gems in their own right. Full marks to Pelly for a well thought out and lively production. The orchestra under Minkowski also have a jolly good romp. Plenty of Offenbachs catchy and infectious music is given with a ballet interlude as well. I would recommend this production to anyone and am sure, like me, it will become one of your favourite DVD's to pass away cold winter evenings. PS. Look for the potatoes! You will be as mystified as me!
Well worth the money.
The production by Laurent Pelly is unendingly inventive but still manages to remain within a totally `believable' period within one main setting. There is a great deal of energetic action throughout the show and much use is made of the stage in a 3D sense in terms of depth of view and action. As a result for example, there may be a main action occurring towards the front of the stage with the main cast but simultaneously there is a considerable amount of choreographed and often amusing action going on elsewhere on the stage. As a result there is a wealth of supplementary detail to be enjoyed at any one time. This makes for excellent repeat viewing via a recording such as this as there is so much that can be further enjoyed upon subsequent viewings.
The cast is uniformly excellent with Felicity Lott taking the title role with great flair and obvious enjoyment. Her French, incidentally, is so fluently delivered that it seems likely that this is a language that she could easily make regular use of in real life. She has a considerable talent for comic timing and passing gestures and expression so her whole performance amounts to a masterly piece of singing and action combined. Much the same can be said of Sandrine Piau who, as the fiancée of hero Fritz, provides endless moments of comic acting coupled with faultless singing. Fritz, taken by Yann Beuron, is yet another example of similar talent and the three make a formidable team. The main supporting roles of Général Boum and Le Baron Puck are equally well portrayed by François Le Roux and Franck Leguérinel respectively and it is with these two roles that there is much inventive choreography used to enliven the band of soldiers as well as the supporting girlfriends portrayed by the rest of the cast. Further on down the cast Prince Paul and Baron Grog played by Eric Huchet and Boris Grappe are also well portrayed in their lesser but important roles.
The orchestra is on top form and the whole performance is kept to an exhilarating forward momentum by conductor Marc Minkowski with his usual levels of energetic enthusiasm.
The recording is very good with engaging camera work which fully captures the humour of the event coupled with crisp imaging that manages to cope faultlessly with all the fast action. Colour rendition is fine. The sound is excellent and reproduces the action all over the stage evenly as well as producing nicely detailed orchestral coverage. The sound is presented in DTS 5.0, DD 5.0 and stereo options.
In summary this is a sparkling production and performance of a very enjoyable comic opera. All the vocal and dramatic demands of the composition are met with considerable aplomb and this is obviously relished by the very enthusiastic audience. To my mind this is an outstanding achievement by all concerned and I would expect it to give considerable and repeat enjoyment to future purchasers. It therefore seems completely reasonable to suggest a full 5 star rating for the disc.
Felicity Lott is a wanderful singer and a fantastic actress too.
All the singer are wonderful, and the elegance of the conductor Minkowsky and him orchestra complete this opera.
Jacques Offenbach is certainly one of most intelligent composers of 19th century!
Buy it absolutely because it's a masterpiece. Don't lost it!
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