La Belle Helene is one of Offenbach's best works, so naturally I would see and hope to love any production of it. This production is simply terrific, I'd go as far to say that I put it on the same level as the wonderful Kasarova/Nikiteanu/Chausson performance. The costumes and sets are imaginative and pleasing to look at, and I also loved the witty and quite broad stage direction. There are many moments that delighted me such as the staging of the Dream Duet, but the highlight was the Act 1 finale involving Menalus, eight dancers dressed as travel agents and a freshly choreographed if brief Can-Can. The digs at the organised and somewhat cynical religion as well as the social satire are wonderfully stinging as well. Musically, it is superb as well, I loved how stylish the orchestral playing was as well as how lively the chorus singing was and the perfectly judged conducting. The performances are just great. Felicity Lott is perhaps older than Helene usually is and her voice has been more resplendent before, but she is still attractive, sings with bite and nuances and is both dignified and fun in her acting. Yann Bueron sings confidently with no signs of strain and he does comedy quite well. Marie-Ange Torodovitch is a magnificent Oreste, singing and acting with aching nobility that is enough to tug your heartstrings, while Michel Senechal is deliciously sly as Menalus. Francois Le Roux is not quite as wickedly funny as Carlos Chausson but still makes a positive impression, and Laurent Naouri is his usual solid self. Overall, a Bon-Bon of a production. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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