La Belle Helene is one of Offenbach's very finest works, and this Zurich production is delightful in every way imaginable. Helene's costumes are unflattering, but the sets are more than decent, some may consider them uninspired but I found them delightfully strange. The staging is sparkling and never lags in energy. The musical values are even better, with stylish and beautifully balanced orchestral playing and Nikolaus Harnencourt's conducting is musical and authoritative and doesn't plod as badly as it can do. All the performances are just wonderful. Deon Van Der Welt, a great talent who died in very tragic circumstances when he had so much more to give, is a very well-sung Paris with a gift for comedy. Vesselina Kasarova's Helene is alluring to watch, with purring low notes and soaring high notes. Liliana Nikiteanu is very moving as Oreste, I do like the rich quality of her voice. The Chalcas of Carlos Chausson is a riot, he is wickedly funny(qualities he also brought to his Bartolo and Alfonso) and he sings with a warm, sonorous tone. In conclusion, entertaining and delightful. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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