Thursday, October 27, 2011

156 Years Later, Wexford Gives "La Cour de Célimène" a Revival

Claudia Boyle as La Comtesse in the
Wexford-revived 1855 opera by
Ambroise Thomas. (Photo: Clive Barda)
"Stephen Barlow’s new production, with Paul Edwards’s picture-book designs placing a tilted set within a picture frame, is as frothy as you could wish for, though the matched timing of stage movement and music sometimes takes a trick too many from the world of Hollywood cartoons. Conductor Carlos Izcaray is a willing co-conspirator. He conducts with lots of fizz, though he sometimes becomes a little unyielding in sustaining pressure to ensure that the froth keeps foaming. The real stars of the evening are the two female leads, Claudia Boyle’s coolly commanding Comtesse, fluttering with graceful ease through acrobatic demands, and Nathalie Paulin, as her sister, La Baronne, often partnering impressively in her vocal flights. Bass John Molloy’s worldly Commandeur de Beaupré takes on the mantle of being a stiff dullard rather too well (and Molloy’s usually reliable comic timing here misfires), though tenor Luigi Boccia’s Chévalier de Mérac is more immediately ingratiating. The comic chorus of 12 lovers, caught like puppets on a string, are wittily portrayed, dragged through the most extravagant of poses by their own vanity as well as the controlling presence of the Comtesse." [Source]

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