Cher Public

Baby, you can can-can too

Born on this day in 1819 composer Jacques Offenbach

Born on this day in 1891 soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi.

Born on this day in 1896 conductor and pianist Wilfrid Pelletier.

Born on this day in 1905 mezzo-soprano Helene Bouvier.

Happy 80th birthday bass Stafford Dean.

Happy 72nd birthday tenor Wolfgang Neumann.

Happy 71st birthday baritone Brent Ellis.

  • La Cieca
  • Quanto Painy Fakor
  • Camille

    Just last Sunday I was listening to this operetta, La Belle Hélène, and wondering WHY his works are not done more often and are not more prevalent? Perhaps they may be in France; I don’t know for certain. They are like a cooling blast of air conditioning on a hot summer day.

    Maybe they are just so much fun that they’re considered licentious and not duly Seriös? Mayhap the Second Empire jokes are pretty stale by now, okay, they are dead by now, but there are always Regie Recalls & Rescues to be done, aren’t there?

    Whatever it may be, I salute you, O Jacques of Many Operettas!

    • grimoaldo2

      The operettas are definitely performed much more often in France, also in Germany and other European countries than they are in North America/ UK (practically never). I suppose this is partly due to the language barrier, as with G&S in non English speaking countries, they are hard to translate and get across anything like the wit of the originals. Also most of the operettas are not really suited to performance in vast barns of opera houses, smaller European theatres are more suitable.
      Operabase Offenbach statistics
      Anyone who enjoys the operettas and has not seen this staging of Les Brigands is in for a treat --
      Unfortunately another of my favourites,Le Roi Carotte, from Lyons last year, has vanished from youtube, but here is a trailer-

      • Camille

        Grand merci, grimoaldo.
        Yes, it all adds up but, still, I was thinking more along the lines of why not?, in student productions, or some of these littler groups which seem to be popping up like mushrooms here in NYC. It’s harder to do comedy, though, much harder and much more quick-silver, subject to myriad tiny little subtleties.

        Thanks for the “Le Roi Carotte” excerpt as I recall you and others speaking of it last year or so, as it won an award in Europe of some sort for being best in show of the year’s productions? Quelque chose de genre.

        Anyway, great music for the summertime! Rafraîchissant!!!

      • It is *very* hard to strike the right tone and relatively easy to fall into corny slapstick.

        • grimoaldo2

          Totally agree about the Pelly Hélène and La Grande Duchesse, in both of those the wondrous Flott is partnered by the fantabulous Yann Beuron,he is also the lead in Le Roi Carotte.

        • Camille

          I think you have isolated the critical element here: joie de vivre. A commodity hard to come by these days.

          Also, “fun”chic is a tough to-do. Given to few.

          After that dreary slog of a Norma I’m ready for Offenbach!

          • Fun, as I’ve had occasion to remark recently on my blog, is hard to simulate on stage. Only very professional directors succeed. “Chic” is hard to define and, now that casual is the norm, not easy to achieve. But Dame Felicity went to Holloway College…

            • Camille

              Mais non…! I thought there were/are “rules” as to what defines “CHIC”, non?

              And I once knew what “avoir du chien”
              was constituted of, but have since let it slip out of mind.

              Old fashioned “chic” = Gabrielle Chanel, was it not? And of course they have updated or tried to but I wonder what it is made of today. As far as “avoir du chien” is concerned, it may be a moot frame of reference these days.

              Certainly, that Tosca the other day had neither chic nor chien, but was dressed like someone from Bushwick Buffalo Exchange. I guess.

              That’s funny, as I think “fun” is hard to
              “Understand” and mostly is when it IS.
              It’s funny that way.

            • I meant that modern performers still know what fun is, however hard it is for a director to conjure it up on stage. They may have had less experience of chic.

              “Avoir du chien” was very bien trouvé !

    • MissShelved

      Catch Orpheus in the Underworld in Minneapolis, MN, Oct. 27 through Nov. 19, 2017 with the GS Very Light Opera Co.

  • New Hampshire’s Opera North is doing La Belle Helene this summer and tickets have been secured. Their standards are pretty good and I’m looking forward to it. YES there should be more Offenbach produced!

  • This is a lovely little clip of Reynaldo Hahn singing two wicked Offenbach songs with wonderful simplicity and fabulous diction:

    • Camille

      That was absolutely marvelous--like stepping through a magic door into the pages of Proust. I’ve always been fond of a couple Hahn songs, and there is a little book he wrote on singing to which I’ll now give a little more credence, after hearing his diverting manner with a chanson. Merci!

      • And such naughty songs in the clips.

    • Cicciabella

      Wow, Hahn was a master of phrasing. No wonder he wrote those wonderful songs of his!

      On another topic altogether, I’ve been meaning to tell you that, thanks to your report, I watched Ginastera’s Bomarzo on The Opera Platform (now no longer available). Unfortunately, they did not add subtitles, but what fantastic, evocative music! I hope you’re right and we’ll get the production in Amsterdam, probably in the 2018-19 season. So thanks for that.

      • It would be a good excuse for me to have a weekend in Amsterdam again, if I see it’s on.

        By the way, since I was in Madrid, the Jon Rafman sculpture I was waiting for has finally been delivered.

  • Donna Annina

    I totally adore the Pelly Orfee. Brilliant staging and clearly everyone’s having a great time. Et Mme. Camille, here’s Yann Beuron avec Natalie.

    • Camille

      Thanks a Lot!

      I’ll have to dig this one out and a good Belle Hélène, too while I’m at it.

      Makes me wish once again that she’d have been able to have learned LULU — for it would have been something else.

      • Minkowski’s Belle Hélène is good, in the Pelly production.

        I think, re La Belle Hélène, it’s well worth re-reading the opening chapter of Zola’s Nana -- Nana’s debut as La Blonde Vénus.

        • manou

          Thank you for supplying the Nana chapter in both languages, which gave me the opportunity of finding out that the translator has come a cropper with Camille’s “chien”. Heaven for a pernickety fusspot like me.

  • Camille

    From Cole Porter’s “Can Can”: