LOUISE is an opera that may be known today as a work with only one hit "Depuis le jour" to its credit, but at one time it was a staple at the great opera houses of the world and was reputed to be a favorite of the Metropolitan Opera's Sir Rudolf Bing who could never remember its name and referred to it as "the one with the girls and the sewing machines."
The case for its revival could be strong. It has a moving story. It tells the story of a poet who falls in love with a seamstress set in Bohemian Paris. While it sounds like a LA BOHEME rip off, the occupations of the main characters and the setting are all the two operas have in common. Louise, the main character loves Julian, a poet, but is torn between running off to Paris with the love of her life and her domineering parents who disapprove of their daughter's choices in life. The opera also has a lush score and a wide array of interesting minor characters. It is unlikely the work will resurface all that soon. It is a long work, nearly three hours not including intermissions, a number of strong voices are needed to make the opera work, and the vast sets needed would make it costly. The only hope would be recordings and since this set is getting harder to find, that may not be a solution either.
This particular recording is one of the few recordings of this work, studio or otherwise. With Ileana Cotrubas and Placido Domingo as Louise and Julian respectively, who recorded the work at the height of their careers, led by conductor Georges Prete, it is almost guaranteed that the set will be a musical treat and it is indeed. It is also strengthened by some of the best known performers in the French repertoire namely Gabriel Bacquier, Jane Berbie, and Michel Senechal.
If you love French opera and are an avid collector, this set is a must for your collection, but the cost may make it prohibitive for anyone other than die hard French opera enthusiasts. Hopefully it will be re-released at a more reasonable price. If it is, I am sure many will rediscover this work and fall in love not only with its best known aria, but the many duets, street scenes, and lush orchestral passages that make this opera a beautiful work.