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Jacques Offenbach: Vert-vert / Parry, Einarsdottir, Taylor, Spence

Offenbach / Spence / Larmore / Pao / Parry
Release Date: 03/09/2010 
Label:  Opera Rara   Catalog #: 41   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
Performer:  Mark StoneAnne TaylorToby SpenceLucy Crowe,   ... 
Conductor:  David Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geoffrey Mitchell ChoirPhilharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

OFFENBACH Vert-Vert David Parry, cond; Thora Einarsdottir ( Mimi ); Ann Taylor ( Emma ); Lucy Crowe ( Bathilde ); Toby Spence ( Valentin/Vert-Vert ); Mark Le Broccq ( Binet ); Mark Stone ( d’Arlange ); Anne-Marie Owens ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Mademoiselle Paturelle ); Franck Leguérinel ( Baladon ); Loïc Félix ( de Bergerac ); Jennifer Larmore ( La Corilla ); Sébastien Droy ( Bellecour ); Franck Lopez ( Friquet/Maniquet ); Philharmonia O; Geoffrey Mitchell Ch OPERA RARA ORC 41(2 CDs: 128:49)

Once again Opera Rara has rescued a work from oblivion with its recording of Offenbach’s Vert-Vert , written not for one of Offenbach’s usual theaters but for the Opéra-Comique. As a consequence, we are deprived of the satire familiar to us from Orphée aux enfers, La belle Hélène, or La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein , to cite some of the best-known operettas. Vert-Vert , we are told in Patrick O’Connors’s accompanying essay, is based on a poem written more than a century earlier, but with the licentious elements removed. Vert-Vert is the parrot belonging to the students at a girls’ boarding school. At curtain rise, the girls are burying their pet, and Valentin is to deliver the funeral oration. The girls decide to adopt Valentin as their new pet, giving him the same nickname. Two of the girls are secretly married to two dragoons who climb over the wall, while Mademoiselle Paturelle, the deputy head of the institution, is secretly married to Baladon, the dancing master. Valentin is called away to visit a sick aunt and the gardener Binet is to accompany him. And the curtain falls on act I. We now move to Nevers, where a travelling company is to appear with the prima donna Corilla, but the tenor has a cold and is replaced by Valentin to great acclaim. Now that Corilla has taught Valentin the meaning of love, he is ready to declare himself to Mimi and all live happily ever after. Conductor David Parry in a short note refers to the work as a “spiritually healthy version of Britten’s Albert Herring.”

In 1869, the year of the work’s premiere, Offenbach also offered Les Brigands and La Princesse de Trébizonde , among other works, while the end of 1868 saw the creation of La Périchole . As usual, the composer kept the works coming, Vert-Vert not being an enormous success, although it did better than other works he wrote for the Opéra-Comique. At the time, it was criticized for great length, three hours and 42 minutes according to one review, which makes one wonder if the delivery was ponderous, or was there an inordinate amount of dialogue, as the running time of the CDs is about the same as most other Offenbach on record. The music is both genteel and gentle, recognizably Offenbach with its careful orchestration and rhythmic eccentricities, and the assembled cast, mostly Anglophone, does a commendable job though the dialogue is occasionally labored. Toby Spence in the title role makes the most of the many opportunities he is offered, the voice warm over a wide range. Thora Einarsdottir as the heroine, Mimi, is a strong enough personality to combat Jennifer Larmore’s prima donna, who remains vocally impressive in her brief appearance. Mark Stone and Loïc Félix are the dashing dragoons, while Sébastien Droy (the tenor with a cold) amusingly explains the origins of his indisposition. Franck Leguérinel’s dancing master is considerably less mannered than is his wont, to our great pleasure, as his ode to dance is a delight. The entire cast contributes to our enjoyment, while David Parry has the measure of what is in fact an exceptional work.

FANFARE: Joel Kasow
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Works on This Recording

Vert-vert by Jacques Offenbach
Performer:  Mark Stone (Baritone), Anne Taylor (Soprano), Toby Spence (Tenor),
Lucy Crowe (Soprano), Mark Le Brocq (Tenor), Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano),
Anne-Marie Owens (Mezzo Soprano), Loïc Félix (Tenor), Franck Leguérinel (Baritone)
Conductor:  David Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geoffrey Mitchell Choir,  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1869; France 
Date of Recording: 09/2008 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 8 Minutes 56 Secs. 

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