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Offenbach: La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein

Felicity Lott , Sandrine Piau , Laurent Pelly , François Roussillon    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasing Duchess March 18 2007
Format:DVD
This live production from the Chatelet, Paris shows off Offenbach's masterpiece rather well. The piece has not got the lilting melodies of Orpheus in the Underworld or La Belle Helene for instance, but it does have a germanic underlying rum-te-tum which gets the feet tapping irresistibly. I have marked it down one point due to the setting which is based loosely on the first world war period and is rather drab. I missed the lovely settings and colourful costumes provided by the original production. Felicity Lott makes a fine Duchess with strong singing and comic acting and she is well supported by the French cast. The whole piece is delightfully silly and will enchant and amuse in equal proportions. Video and audio quality is excellent.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a lot of lott is not enough lott Feb. 10 2006
By A. Grossman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Dame Feliicity Lott is absolutely terrific as the title character in this hilarious production. She us having so much fun here and it shows in this wondeful farce. As with her outstanding Helen in the equally funny La Belle Helene, Dame Felicity sparkles as a frustrated woman dying for a romantic fling with a young stud. When she retires from opera she should do comedy. What she could do for Noel Coward.

This is a long production with much added music and the production shines. This DVD is worth the price just for the newly recorded "Carillon" selection that concludes Act 2. It is five minutes of pure hilarity with a wonderful galop that could only be Offenbach.

Dame Felicity is a British national treasure. We should all be happy that she doesn't have the same opinion of Offenbach that Richard Wagner had. Buy - watch - and enjoy.

Hopefully there may be more Offenbach that she can do.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This DVD is a knockout!!! Jan. 28 2006
By T. C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Conductor Marc Minkowski and director Laurent Pelly collaborated in two other highly successful Offenbach productions that are preserved on DVD: La belle Helene (2000) and Orphée aux Enfers (1997). This new production of La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein is the latest Minkowski / Pelly collaboration, and it is as brilliant as the two that preceded it.

Felicity Lott is outstanding as La Grande Duchesse. The voice has lost some of its past quality, mainly in the lower register, but the high notes are impressive as ever. Lott 2000 production of Offenbach's La Belle Helene with Minkowski revealed a great ability and talent as a comic actress. She speaks excellent French with a little bit of a "foreign" pronunciation, which makes her performance funnier. The athletic tenor, Yan Beuron is very good as Fritz, the common soldier, both musically and as an actor. The talented Sandrine Piau is luxury casting as Fritz fiancée, Wanda.

Décor and costumes are beautiful and effective, but the lighting is too dark in several places during Act II. Laurent Pelly, the director and designer, is inspired and brilliant as usual. The ballet sequences are original and great fun too.

Minkowski shapes the music with a great deal of charm and wit. I have in my collection the excellent Plasson recording (1975) with Regine Crespin, Alain Vanzo and Mady Mesple. But Minkowski offers us a more complete text, extra half an hour of beautiful and scintillating music: this is the new Offenbach Edition Keck version of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and it includes numbers like the stunning finale of act II (La Carillon de ma grand-mère and the Couplets de la plume) that were not available before.

Technical quality (picture and sound) is first class.

Urgently recommended!!!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny, Great Lott Aug. 1 2006
By A. Pfeffer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Dame Felicity Lott struck me as all wrong as La Belle Helene, so I wanted to say she's an unqualified howl as La Grande Duchesse. Here, middle age works for her dramatically and vocally, as she struts, leers, and pratfalls the plausible character of a frustrated matronly duchess hilariously brandishing her father's sabre and trying without much success to seduce the handsome young soldiers in her pet army. A virtuoso performance both musically and comically. The other singers, the orchestra, and its enthusiastic conductor also score points. The lavish big-stage production, though a bit complicated, seems authentically Offenbachian in its controlled-chaotic nonsensicality. This show is an obvious precursor of the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, complete with its own (singing) Margaret Dumont.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monty Python at the Opera March 13 2006
By Robert A. Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Pure enjoyment and fun. A very talented cast is coupled with an outstanding production that brings out the best in Offenbach's wonderfully tuneful score. The opening credits are straight out of Monty Python and the performance that follows is in the same spirit. If you've never seen a comic opera, this is a great place to start.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Adequate Grande Duchesse Oct. 28 2008
By DDD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Because I had enjoyed La Belle Helene so much and because I had the French CD version of Duchesse (with Crespin) I felt this had to be a winner. Many years ago I saw an English language version; surprisingly I found I enjoyed it immensely even though French operetta like its German and Austrian equivalent don't travel well when translated, Well, the version under consideration didn't travel well to this auditor. Aside from the production which looked "low rent", Pelly's direction was of the "wink wink nudge nudge" school. Everything was underlined, exaggerated, and grotesque. I adore Lott but she was directed to overdo all her gestures and schticks. When it came to simply singing, I have no criticism, but there is a lot of dialogue and little inspiration or imagination employed.

I hate to be negative, but I frankly doubt whether I will play this DVD very often.
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