La grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (TV Movie 2004) Poster

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A grand Grand Duchess indeed!
TheLittleSongbird3 November 2012
How very apt for a production as good as this. La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein is not one of Offenbach's finest works, but the music is of great beauty and it has its charm. Like with Laurent Pelly's other Offenbach productions, I loved every minute of this. The attention to detail is done absolutely beautifully, even if Act 2 is at times too darkly lit. The music is pure Offenbach, the Gallop heard has that unmistakable style of his. The staging is classy and full of charm and sparkling comedy. The Carillon section at the end of Act 2 is included to delightful effect and is filled with non-stop hilarity and spirit from all involved. The musical values are every bit as good, the orchestral playing is energetic and lush in its sound, while Marc Minkowski's conducting is remarkable in how elegantly shaped and musical it is. Felicity Lott's voice I think has seen better days, but it still sounds great and done with her usual musicality and intelligence. She is a deft comedy actress as well. Yann Beuron has a ringing tone and a good stage presence, plus he seems to have an understanding of Offenbach's style. Sandrine Piau is casting in luxurious measure. Overall, an absolute delight, nothing wrong to say about it at all. Just for the record, of Laurent Pelly's productions I've seen, which is all but one, L'Heure Espagnole, Ariadne Auf Naxos and the Met Manon are the only ones I didn't care for, the rest are very good to outstanding. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Oh what a lovely bore
Gyran6 October 2005
This stylish production from Paris Chatelet has a First World War setting. It opens with bodies strewn across a battlefield but, as the overture proceeds, it becomes clear that they are either sleeping or dead-drunk. What follows is something like Joan Littlewood's Oh What a Lovely War, but without that work's satirical bite. The generals declare war just to keep their duchess entertained. The Grand Duchess, played by Felicity Lott, promotes a handsome young private to the rank of field marshal. He leads her army to victory but, then, rejects her in favour of his village sweetheart. Thwarted in love, the Grand Duchess plans to kill him aided by her disgruntled generals. Felicity Lott sends herself up mercilessly in the unsympathetic role of a duchess who is amusing but as shallow as a pantomime dame. The First World War setting brings home to us the fact that declaring war just for the hell of it is not a good idea. There were terrible wars in Offenbach's time too but maybe fashionable Paris society was insulated from them. Offenbach's score is uninspired and, at nearly three hours in length, the jokes wear very thin.
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