This is very substandard Offenbach. Unmemorable tunes and a daft plot about the gardener in a girl's school taking the place of a dead parrot as their beloved pet mascot. The performers are good, apart from the lead (Thora Einarsdottir), whom I have not heard of before and have not heard of since. A very soft-grained voice, which leaves no lasting impression. One to be avoided. I saw it in performance at Garsington a few years ago, and it was just as boring.
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.
I've only listened to this recording once and had it on again last night. but fell asleep.Its the first recording of this piece for ever I think. It seems quite pleasant with quite pleasant tunes. But its not Orpheus. Still, I'll continue to listen to it. A well presented box set with a complete history of the story of Vert Vert ( a parrot wot died)and a history of its performances. So quite interseting.