A rare disappointment from Theatre Imperial De Compiegne's revival productions of forgotten French opera
Admittedly, much of the problem lies with the opera itself. Of the four Gounod operas this reviewer is familiar with, 'La Colombe' is my least favourite by quite some margin, 'Faust' and 'Romeo Et Juliette' it isn't and 'Mireille' is an underrated jewel.
The music does have some lovely parts (and the additional music by Francis Poulenc thankfully doesn't jar), but there is not much that is memorable, but problematic is the very vapid and static story that fails to make the characters compelling.
Known by this reviewer for their revival productions of forgotten French opera, Theatre Imperial De Compiegne's productions are worth watching at least and quite often their productions are great, very rarely did they have a disappointment and Pierre Jourdan was a very talented stage director.
'La Colombe' unfortunately for both Theatre Imperial De Compiegne is a rare disappointment. It does have its merits, it's beautifully and energetically played by the orchestra and helped by conducting that's both sympathetic and authoritative. The video directing is focused and has both an expansiveness and an intimacy. The performances from the three leads are very good considering what they had to work with.
Ghyslaine Raphanel sings beautifully and flexibly and looks wonderful and in full command onstage. Jean Philippe Courtis does over-compensate at times in a noble attempt to make something out of little, but he engages with the drama very well and never comes across as annoying. Antoine Normand is fine as the opera's trouser role Mazet.
Jourdan's stage directing is rarely compelling, not helped by the lack of story in the opera. He struggles to give any momentum or emotional impact to the production, everything is dull and cold which is not like Jourdan at all. The production lacks the company's usual lavishness, with too dark lighting and a lot of drabness and little colour.
On a technical front, only the video directing is good. The picture quality lacks clarity and is too dark, while the sound shows an imbalance between orchestra and the singing, with instances of the orchestra overpowering and the singers being drowned and other instances of the singers soaring and the orchestra sounding distant. For anybody who doesn't know French or the opera very well (this reviewer belongs in the latter), the production due to the lack of subtitles will be not easy to follow.
In conclusion, intriguing watch but a rare disappointment. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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