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The importance of having fun October 25, 2007

Posted by Jeff in French, Jacques Offenbach, Opera, Theater.
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Good productions of operettas by Jacques Offenbach are relatively rare nowadays. It’s not that this stuff has to be treated like sacred text; it really works better if you have fun with it. The operative word being fun; the performers in the Theatre de la Monnaie Orphée really didn’t seem as if they were enjoying themselves.

The story of La Belle Hélène is the opening chapters of the Iliad processed through Offenbach’s lorgnette. This is the finale of the 2001 Paris Théâtre du Châtelet production, conducted by Marc Minkowski, in which Pâris (Yann Beuron) disguises himself as Buddy Holly in a toga the High Priest of Venus in order to spirit off Hélène (the delicious Felicity Lott, Helen Mirren channeling Beatrice Lillie) from under the eyes of Menelaus (Michel Sénéchal).

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