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Jacques Offenbach

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6 years ago

IL ÉTAIT UNE FOIS // An imaginary Opera focusing on Fairytales - J. DEVOS, C. MENG, QUATUOR GIARDINI

Alpha Classics
Alpha Classics
CD Release: August 2016

Romanticism replaced the element of mythological fantasy in Baroque opera with fairytale fantasy. The fairytale is omnipresent on the French stage, whether in spoken theatre, ballet or opera. It is no coincidence that Cinderella and Bluebeard so appealed to nineteenth-century composers . . .

This project, initiated by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, is constructed like a ‘universal’ fairytale inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard, Hop-o’-My-Thumb and others, as set to music by French composers of the Romantic era. It alternates between famous composers (Offenbach, Massenet, Chausson . . . and Rossini, here sung in French) and others who are still little-known (Viardot, Silver, Serpette, De Rillé, Isouard).

Conceived by Alexandre Dratwicki and transcribed by him for piano quartet and two singers, a soprano and a mezzo, this imaginary opera is splendidly performed by Jodie Devos and Caroline Meng – who, at one point in the story, having sung a queen, dons breeches to play a prince. For her part, the soprano, who ends up as the winsome princess of Massenet and Offenbach, must first endure the torments of uncertain love.


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