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For me, the only foible I have with this La Vie Parisienne is the inclusion of an attempted rape, which I found very unnecessary and unpleasant to watch. Other than that, the production is brilliant, a huge improvement on the 1991 performance with Helene Delavault, which had some good things but has numerous huge problems. The settings are modern day, but are much less sparse than the earlier performance, while the staging especially the ending and the highly amusing cat-walk turn has much more energy and vitality. The costumes are just gorgeous. Offenbach's beautiful music is lovingly played by the orchestra, who show a beauty and elegance of tone and stylish energising. Sebastien Rouland is a new name to me but after this with his electric and highly involved reading I cannot wait to see and hear more of him. The principals are really marvellous. The ever versatile Laurent Naouri manages to be both distinguished and hilarious. Marc Callahan looks very handsome, sings and act with an appealing French accent and his singing is pleasant to listen to. Jean-Sebastien Bou fares exactly the same as Callahan, while while slightly lacking in panache Jesus Garcia is appropriately virile and Maria Riccarda Wesseling's Metella is very sexy. Stealing the show is Marie Devellereau, whose Gabrielle is superb with brilliant colouratura technique and a vibrant stage presence, her cat-walk turn was one of the highlights of the performance. Overall, has one questionable moment but everything else is spot on. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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