Offenbach composed over 100 operettas, and yet is primarily remembered now only for The Tales of Hoffman and for having written the "Can-Can". This live Concert of Music by Offenbach aims to put the record straight and show that at least some of his other works deserve the chance to be staged. Fortunately the composer has found almost ideal advocates in conductor Marc Minkowski and mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter. The latter takes a respectful but unstuffy approach to the scores (the orchestral numbers Souvenirs d'Aix-les-Bains and the Barbe Bleue Ouverture are played with exquisite attention to detail, especially in some sighing woodwind solos) and von Otter shows that she is as great a comedienne as she is a singer. From the blowsy Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein declaring her love for soldiers in tight uniforms to the outrageous yodelling of the Colonel's Widow from La Vie Parisienne, she hits just the right note of inspired lunacy and frothiness. And there are some delicious costume changes too, including a grotesque bumpkin hat that's almost as big as the mezzo herself ("Duo des Alsaciens"). There's even more unintentional comedy in the English subtitles, which must be among the worst ever produced: "myself every night what I do coming here to seat" is one solipsistic oddity. Oliver Becker directs well for the small screen, capturing the fizz of a lively event.
Anne-Sofie Von Otter, Magali Léger, Stéphanie d'Oustrac, Gilles Ragon, Jean-Christophe Keck, Laurent Naouri, Jean-Christophe Henry, Franck Versini, Christophe Grapperon, Marc Minkowski, Frédéric Albou, Geneviève Bois, Loïc Boissier, Laurent Bourdeaux, Jose Canales, Carole Cantin, Jean-Philippe Catusse, Fabienne Colson, Simon Dariel, Matthieu de Laubier