Notes and Editorial Reviews
[T]he old mono French Columbia under Markevitch...without being star-studded, was rich in the right flavour and spirit, very French and light in touch, and still sounds good.
-- Peter Gammond, Gramophone [10/1982]
[Others have] direct[ed] sympathetically, if not managing the finesse that Igor Markevitch brought to EMI's classic 1958 recording...
-- Gramophone [5/1992]
The main character of this romantic operetta is a street singer, Périchole, who has a place of honour among operatic heroines, existing in works other than this one by Offenbach. She did in fact
exist as an exuberant Peruvian street singer who had Lima worshipping at her feet. She was the daughter of José de Villegas and the heiress of an important Spanish family in the Peruvian capital, Teresa Hurtado de Mendoza. Her name was Michaela Villegas, born in 1748 and dying in 1819, she was famous not only as an entertainer but also as the mistress of the Viceroy of Peru. She ended her days as a Carmelite. In 1995 one of her descendants, Bertrand Villegas, living in Paris, wrote a fictional biography of her. This out-of-the ordinary character had fascinated others before him. First there was Prosper Mérimée, who as part of his Théâtre de Clara Gazul in 1829 recounted some stories about her in Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement, which in 1948 inspired an opera by Henri Busser (and another by the British composer, Lord Berners, recorded on Marco Polo). There was also Jean Renoir, whose Le Carrosse d'Or (1953) was a well-received success. And here Jacques Offenbach, and his La Périchole - the insult ("perra choia" which means "creole bitch") had been thrown at the impetuous, wayward young woman by her protector, where it stuck as if it were her name.
Offenbach’s score contains some catchy tunes and stirring moments. Try the marching duet "Le conquérant dit a la jeune indienne" (CD1 tk.6) with its staccato catch-syllables. The most memorable number is Périchole’s letter song "O mon cher amant" (CD1 tk.10) which is sung by Suzanne Lafaye with the right quality of lyrical sensuousness. By contrast she also provides a comic drunken take-off (with balletic overtones) in "Ah! Quel diner" (CD1 tk.13) with good characterisation. Perhaps the nearest Offenbach gets to a Peruvian identity is in two numbers; the unusual, piccolo-led finale with the choir and notaries (CD1 tk12), and the finale to Act 3 with its accentuated minor key (CD2 tk.21). The music elsewhere is firmly French.
Markevitch has well rehearsed the company and maintains tight reins in his direction of the orchestra. In the Galop de l’arrestation (CD2 tk.7) soloists and choir are required to sing short syllables in unison at a rapid pace. All keep absolutely in step (a difficult achievement with so many singing). The duo singing of Pierre Germain (Don Pedro) Jean-Christophe Beniot Le Comte) in the catchy Bolero (CD2 tk.10) is good and well matched.
-- Raymond Walker, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
La Périchole by Jacques Offenbach
Christian Asse (Tenor),
Suzanne Lafaye (Soprano),
Raymond Amade (Tenor),
Louis Noguera (Bass),
Jean-Christophe Benoit (Baritone),
Janette Vivalda (Soprano),
Denise Monteil (Soprano),
Monique Linval (Soprano),
Agnes Disney (Mezzo Soprano),
Jacques Pruvost (Baritone),
Pierre Germain (Baritone)
René Duclos Chorus,
Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Written: 1868/1874; Paris, France
Date of Recording: 1958
Venue: Salle de la Mutualité, Paris, France
Length: 93 Minutes 36 Secs.
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