This is an even better version of Offenbach's opéra-bouffe than the fine 2000 version which I reviewed earlier. Also with an international cast, it stars Vesselina Kasarova, the Bulgarian soprano as Helen of Sparta (later Troy), Deon van der Walt a South African tenor as Paris, Carlos Chausson, a Spanish bass-baritone as Calchas and Volker Vogel the German tenor as Menelaus.
All of these singers are excellent both vocally and as farceurs and I was saddened to read that Deon van der Walt was murdered in 2005, apparently by his own father in a dispute over the running of his wine farm.
The ubiquitous Nikolaus Harnoncourt is the conductor who also takes part in the action on occasion, even kicking up his heels during the final curtain calls. As one of the leaders of the modern (1950s) original instruments revival, this is rather startling behavior to say the least! Missing from this version is the "frame" of the Lott version where Helen and Menelaus are an ordinary bored couple with Felicity dreaming her way into the part of Helen. Here the costumes are much more sedate and in the style of the original Greek legend; in short, no bathing suits.
If you want to see the 2000 version, it might be a good idea to start with this one if you have sufficient fondness for Offenbach to see both versions.
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