Cher Public

Statue of limitations

ZampaMany 19th century overtures became far more popular than the works they introduced—for example, when’s the last time you saw a Franz Suppé operetta? “Trove Thursday” has resurrected one such rarity: Hérold’s Zampaou La fiancée de marbre performed by Les Arts Florissants, conducted by William Christie with Richard Troxell in the title role and Patricia Petibon as Camille (!). 

Hérold was, perhaps, more hard-working than talented, year after year cranking out works without much success. Although Zampa is his best known operatic title, he did achieve long-term fame with his ballet La Fille mal gardée which continues to be performed today—it was just danced by American Ballet Theater at its season at the Met earlier this year.

Zampa has a near-incomprehensible plot of pirates and a magical statue but it still briefly captured the public’s imagination and chalked up over 500 performances in less than 50 years.

Over the years Les Arts Florissants has rarely ventured into performing 19th century works which might account for why this Zampa was never recorded nor videotaped. But this 2008 revival at the Opéra-Comique was a popular success and revived the following season.

Hérold: Zampa
14 March 2008

Camille: Patricia Petibon
Ritta: Doris Lamprecht
Zampa: Richard Troxell
Alphonse de Monza: Bernard Richter
Daniel: Léonard Pezzino
Dandolo: Vincent Ordonneau

Les Arts Florissants
Conductor: William Christie

“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player available above. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, Zampa and all previous fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.

  • That was the last (and only) time I saw one!

  • Gualtier Maldè

    L’Opera Francais de New York did a concert version of this opéra-comique at Alice Tully Hall back in April 2000. Yves Abel conducted and Isabel Bayrakdarian sang the prima donna role of Camille. It was the best thing I ever heard from her -- she sounded like a young Anna Moffo with this luscious dark timbre with brilliant point. The cast also included Tracey Welborn in the title role, Charles Reid as the second tenor and a young Maria Zifchak. The lead role is tricky because it is a real baryton martin role -- supposedly Chollet was the successor to Jean-Blaise Martin who was the prototype who gave his name to this type of baritenor voice. When the opera was done in the past both baritones and tenors sang the title role and each vocal type had to adapt the vocal line or had problems with the music. You need some command of head voice in the upper register which even in the 1800’s was quickly disappearing art for male singers.

    I knew the crackerjack overture but never heard the whole thing (until this performance there was not even a pirate recording available of the whole work just some arias from Daniel Vigneau and dozens of the overture only). I remember that though the plot resembled Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” the score really sounded a lot like Rossini in French. “Le Comte Ory” is a valid comparison. There were delightful buffo duets in quick time and sparkling cavatinas. Lots of crescendos -- the plot is no sillier than many other operas that have stayed in the repertoire.

    • Sanford Schimel

      And Isabel Bayrakdarian is terrific in the Benvenuto Cellini from the Met. What happened to her?

      • She lost her top. The voice is still attractive and she’s a good singer, but she’s a lyric without good high notes, sadly.

  • grimoaldo2

    Oooh, thanks! I look forward to listening to this.
    “when’s the last time you saw a Franz Suppé operetta?”
    Indeed, although I have long wanted to. I have always thought that when overtures to operas are wonderful, the rest of the work must at least be worth hearing.
    You can see “Boccacio” on youtube:

    • Krunoslav

      Bronx Opera did BOCACCIO in 2002; I recall good performances by Kyle Pfortmiller( nowadays a frequent Met Marquis d’Obigny) and Noelle Barbera in the leads.

  • calaf47

    Thanks for the upload

    • manou

      The Edit function works well!

  • grimoaldo2

    Absolutely great, wonderful, loved it loved it loved it, thank you so much for posting this!