Showing posts from December, 2007

Chabrier – L’Etoile

Opéra Comique, Paris, Wednesday December 19, 2007

Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Production: Macha Makeïeff and Jérôme Deschamps. Sets and Costumes: Macha Makeïeff. Lazuli: Stéphanie d’Oustrac. La Princesse Laoula: Anne-Catherine Gillet. Aloès: Blandine Staskiewicz. Le Roi Ouf 1er: Jean-Luc Viala. Hérisson de Porc Epic: Christophe Gay. Siroco: Jean-Philippe Lafont. Tapioca: François Piolino. Comic actors: Jean-Marc Bihour, Philippe Leygnac and Patrice Thibaud. The Monteverdi Choir, L’Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

For many years, Offenbach productions in France were of two equally unsuccessful kinds: grim, humourless, black-leather “Berlin” deconstructions or, more often, a sort of amateur-British-panto style, faux-naïf and filled with clichés and hopelessly unfunny “gags” (often also sung to arrangements for a kind of Broadway ensemble) talked up – this being France, where Jerry Lewis is not only “knighted” for his services to arts and letters but also a Commander of the…

Massenet - Werther

La Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday December 16 2007Conductor: Kazushi Ono. Production: Guy Joosten. Werther: Andrew Richards. Le Bailli : Gilles Cachemaille. Charlotte : Sophie Koch. Sophie : Hendrickje Van Kerckhove. Albert : Jean-François Lapointe. Schmidt : Yves Saelens. Johann : Lionel Lhote. Käthchen : Anneke Luyten. Brühlmann : Olivier Berten. Orchestra and children's chorus of La Monnaie.To cut a long story short, this Brussels production of Werther was a lot better in the second half than the first, possibly because that's the way Werther is, but more probably on account of the production.Now for the long story, production first.This was basically a single-set staging with a change of props per act. The permanent space was triangular, with pale grey, flat-panelled walls meeting in a point at the rear. Set into this was, in acts one to three, a basic bourgeois interior: a door and a window in walls "papered" with a romantic landscape that changed colour with the sea…

Bernstein - West Side Story

Paris Châtelet, Tuesday November 27 2007

Conductor: Donald Chan. Production and choreography: Joey McKneely. Sets: Paul Gillis. Costumes: Renate Schmitzer. Lighting: Peter Halbsgut. Tony: Sean Attebury. Maria: Ann McCormack. Anita: Vivian Nixon. "West side story orchestra".

I must own up to being ill-equipped to assess West Side Story. I enjoy musicals and usually try to fit one in when in New York, but I can only have seen about a dozen in all between New York and London. As far as I can remember, though I've obviously seen scenes on TV, I've never actually seen the whole film. Of course, I know the songs but am familiar with the score mainly through the symphonic dances. And I have a devil of a job "deciphering" amplified sound, not being used to it.

The current "50th anniversary" Paris show is in fact a German touring production, billed as "original" because it recreates the original Robbins choreography; but from what I've read in t…