'La Perichole' is somewhat silly plot-wise, but it is hugely entertaining as well as some touching parts in third act and brilliant music by Offenbach, some of his best.
Pierre Jourdan has been responsible for reviving rare French opera, much of which can be found on DVD, and most are great, especially those for Saint Saens' 'Henry VIII', Auber's 'Haydee Ou Le Secret' and Thomas' 'La Songe De La Nuit D'Ete'. That for Gounod's 'La Colombe', not helped by an opera that's not particularly good itself, was one of rare exceptions. His 'La Perichole' is another gem of his.
There is very little to criticise here. The lack of subtitles is somewhat of a problem, especially if you are not familiar with the story or the language which a good deal of people watching Jourdan's work are not. With the production itself, the only real problem is that due to cuts the dialogue and storytelling occasionally does feel jumpy.
However, it's a sumptuous looking production, with beautiful and meticulous painterly sets, elegant traditional costumes and dynamic lighting. Jourdan's stage direction puts the operetta and Offenbach first, the staging is intelligent and with some lovely, light-as-a-feather comedic touches with a great mix of the witty and the gentle and the poignant moments of Act 3 are genuinely so. The dialogue is very witty and often hilarious with Jourdan's delivery of the spoken lines with the performers miming coming over as very inspired.
Musically, the orchestra sparkle in wit and further play with ravishing tone and pathos. The sound is balanced well and captures all aspects of the music well, while the video directing and picture quality are fine. The conducting is alert and accommodating, the music breathes but the drama remains alive. The performances are terrific, especially from lovely Lucille Vignon and the richly voiced and character Gabriel Bacquier.
Overall, another gem from Jourdan and Theatre Imperial De Compiegne. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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