PARIS / Marc Minkowski and Laurent Pelly: happy reunion with Offenbach

PARIS / Marc Minkowski and Laurent Pelly: happy reunion with Offenbach

Paris. Theater des Champs-Elysées. 15-XI-2022. offenbach : The périchole. Antoinette Donnefeld, Stanislas de Barbeyrac, Laurent Naouri, Rodolphe Briand, Lionel Lhote, Chloé Briot. Choeur de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux. Les Musiciens du Louvre. Music Director: Marc Minkowski. Stage manager: Laurent Pelly.

la périchole e an opera buffa inspired by a story by Prosper Mérimée, the author of Carmen, in which Meilhac and Havely themselves were to be inspired for Georges Bizet’s masterpiece. Is about The float of the Blessed Sacrament (Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement), which Jean Renoir would adapt to the cinema in 1953 with the title of Le Carrosse d’or. la périchole (1868) is one of the most celebrated comic operas of the “Mozart of the Champs Elysées”. The script has an operetta dictator in love with a pretty mestizo actress, and the place of action is Peru, so all the possibilities are open to the stage directors, although you also have to know how to locate poetry spaces, since the work contains vast pages of romantic commotion.

The Marc Minkowski-Laurent Pelly duo know Offenbach like the backs of their hands, and it is not for nothing that they have demonstrated this for twenty-five years with Orphée aux enfers, La Belle Hélène, La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, Les Contes d’Hoffmann… Pelly has staged more than a dozen works by Offenbach, including la périchole at the Marseille Opera in 2003, while Minkowski conducted his in 2018 at the Bordeaux Opera. On this occasion, Pelly has decided to transfer the action to current times, and turns the two main characters into a couple of street singers.

With an updated text in the spoken dialogues, subtly chiseled by Agathe Mélinand, Offenbach currently gains what it loses as a parody of the great French opera, but with an emphasis on the social and political criticism of the original libretto. Pelly achieves for his vision a libertine joy that is never lewd, in a set design in three main scenes wisely conceived by the set designer Chantal Thomas: the bar of the three cousins ​​is transformed into a gruesome and cramped caravan; the elegant Viceroy’s salon, a distant vestige of the great French opera, in a grotesque ballet in the form of social criticism underlined by the contrast of Pelly’s costumes and the reverberating lights, in a set of mirrors by Michel Le Borgne; finally, the barred dungeons of the autocratic Viceroy.

The cast is very homogeneous, with singer-actors each more irresistible. The diction is impeccable, both in speech and in singing, and the scenic solution is beyond reproach. Anotinette Donnefeld in an intrepid Périchole with a voluptuous voice and perfect diction; Stanislas de Berbeyrac is a charming and slightly naive Piquillo, endowed with a powerful and sometimes resounding song. Laurent Naoury displays an indescribable Viceroy with great depths who takes pleasure in his role as a recalcitrant lecher, a bit macho and quite perverse, and whose voice with its powerful timbre and fragile line makes him even more twisted.

In the role of the Count of Panatellas, Rodolphe Briand shows himself to be a true actor who sings. Supporting roles participate in the achievement of the show. Chloé Briot, Alix Le Saux and Eléonore Pancrazi as sparkling cousins; the subservient courtier duo of Rodolphe Briand and Lionel Lhote; the demanding notaries Mitesh Khatri and Jean-Philippe Fourcade; the also sparkling courtesan of Natalie Perez; while the excellent Chorus of the Bordeaux Opera gives a perfect reply to all the protagonists.

As always with Offenbach, Minkowski manages to impose himself through the pleasure of communicating and through the festive game that he transmits to the Musiciens du Louvre, which shine in every way in a kind of festival of virtuosity and fiery colors wonderfully contrasted.

Bruno Serrou

PARIS / Marc Minkowski and Laurent Pelly: happy reunion with Offenbach