'Les Brigands' is very much a little known operetta by Offenbach. It is sad that that is the case, because while it is silly and sometimes wildly improbable the story delights in its constant zaniness, the characters engage, the satire is delicious and the music is not only beautiful but memorable.
This production of 'Les Brigands' sparkles beautifully. It does suffer from the rather unimaginative costumes for the bandits, who look too ordinary rather than the rough and crude lot they're meant to be, and the downtown 1920s Chicago contemporary setting from the original setting of the Italian mountains, a change which jars constantly with the libretto (which contains dialogue that indicates a very specific setting).
However, the female costumes are very elegant and the production values on a technical front are first-rate, with video directing that captures all the action on stage without being too busy while having room for intricacy without being static, clear as crystal picture quality and resonant sound that allows one to enjoy the music in its full impact. The staging maintains the zany and deliciously satirical spirit of the operetta's story and antics beautifully, the action is very zany stuff with a biting and deliciously witty satirical edge and the staging and drama entertains and delights wildly.
Musically, no real complaints can be had. The orchestra play with beautiful tone, energetic wit and whimsical pathos, and this reviewer loved the idea of having them on the stage in the final act which saw some inspired stage interaction. The chorus are animated, seeming to enjoy themselves a lot, and sing with lovely tone and involvement. They are helped along the way by the evocatively French, authoritative and sprightly conducting from Claire Gibault.
All the performances work wonders, with it being very difficult to pick a standout in a cast that was uniformly great. Michel Trempont excels with both the distinctively distinguished speaking and stylishly ringing and characterful singing, while Bernard Pisani is adeptly suave as Antonio, Valerie Chevalier's Fiorella radiates whenever she appears in every way and Colette Alliot-Lugaz sings with creamy fullness and complements Chevalier wonderfully.
Overall, beautiful, sparkling production with only some of the costumes and the setting letting things down. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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