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Jacques Offenbach - La Grande Duchesse de Gerólstein (1972)

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Jacques Offenbach - La Grande Duchesse de Gerólstein (1972)

Disc 1
1	Act 1. Overture			
2	Act 1. Narrator			
3	Act 1. En attendant que l'heure sonne...			
4	Act 1. Narrator			
5	Act 1. O mon Fritz, que tu m'affliges
6	Act 1. Narrator			
7	Act 1. Des femmes dans le camp
8	Act 1. Narrator			
9	Act 1. Me voici, Fritz! J'ai tant couru
10	Act 1. Narrator			
11	Act 1. Portons armes! Presentons armes!			
12	Act 1. Narrator			
13	Act 1. Chanson du regiment: Ah, c'est un fameux regiment			
14	Act 1. Narrator			
15	Act 1. Pour Epouser une princesse
16	Finale: Nous allions partir pour la guerre			
17	Finale: Mais je suis reine	
18	Finale: Je serai vainqueur	
19	Act 2. Scene 1. Introduction	
20	Act 2. Scene 1. Narrator	
21	Act 2. Scene 1. Enfin la guerre est terminee			
22	Act 2. Scene 1. Narrator	
23	Act 2. Scene 1. Apres la victoire
24	Act 2. Scene 1. Madame, en quatre jours			
25	Act 2. Scene 1. En tres bon ordre nous partemes			

Disc 2
1	Act 2. Scene 1. Narrator	
2	Act 2. Scene 1. Voici ce qu'a dit mon amie			
3	Act 2. Scene 1. Eh bien, reponds-moi maintenant			
4	Act 2. Scene 1. Narrator	
5	Act 2. Scene 1. Ne devinez-vous pas?
6	Act 2. Scene 1. Maintenant, me comprenez-vous?			
7	Act 3. Prelude			
8	Act 3. Narrator			
9	Act 3. O grandes lesons du passe!
10	Act 3. Narrator			
11	Act 3. Nous amenons la jeune femme
12	Act 3. Bonne nuit!		
13	Act 3. Faut-il, mon Dieu, que je sois bete!			
14	3. Au repas comme a  la bataille
15	Act 3. Narrator			
16	Act 3. Voici revenir mon pauvre homme!			
17	Act 3. Eh bien, Altesse, me voila !
18	Act 3. Narrator			
19	Finale: Enfin, j'ai repris le pouvoir!	

La Grande Duchesse - Huguette Tourangeau
Fritz - John Walker
Prince Paul - Richard Stilwell
Baron Puck - Douglas Perry
Général Boum - Donald Gramm
Baron Grog - Jack Davidson
Népomuc - John Hall
Wanda - Susan Belling

Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and Chorus
John Crosby – conductor

 

As Napoléon III's expansionist ambitions laced French political life with a frisson of precariousness, the waning years of the Second Empire were iconographically marked by Offenbach's frothiest, most ambitious, and most enduring operettas, satires all -- La Belle Hélène (1864), guying the stupidity and cupidity of "heroes" and rulers; La Vie parisienne (1866), establishing the myth of Paris as the jaded capital of worldly pleasures; and, with the latter still enjoying a smash-hit run, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, opening at the Paris Variétés on April 12, 1867, after being cobbled together at breakneck speed to accompany the inauguration of the Paris World Exposition. Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, librettists of those triumphs (and, in 1873, of Bizet's Carmen), were tapped once again, though Offenbach, guided by his keen sense of timing, exercised a major hand in shaping the book. With the Exposition drawing the full panoply of European royalty, nothing was spared to assure La Grande Duchesse's surefire success, beginning with the soprano lead, the grand duchess herself, for which Offenbach signed the reigning diva of operetta -- the creator of Helen in La Belle Hélène, among several other Offenbach roles -- the legendary Hortense Schneider at the astronomical sum of 4,500 francs a month. Tall, blonde, buxom, vocally endowed, with a saucily commanding presence on-stage and off, Schneider was charismatically fitted to portray one of the libretto's not-so-covert targets, Tsarina Catherine II, "the Great," whose sexual precocity -- in Don Juan, Byron refers to her as "queen of queans" and "greatest of all sovereigns and whores" -- was a still living memory and never-ending scandal. The pretentious pomp of militarism, petty intrigues, and overbearing idiocy masquerading in uniform provided other ready targets. Bismarck, who came for the Exhibition with the King of Prussia, attended, leaving with the remark "C'est tout-a-fait ça!" (That's how it is!) Emperor Napoléon waited until April 24 to see it, but soon returned with Empress Eugénie. The Prince of Wales, Tsar Alexander II (who wired ahead from Cologne for a ticket), the Kings of Bavaria, Portugal, and Sweden, the Sultan of Turkey, the Viceroy of Egypt, Ismail Pasha -- all came at least once, and some many times. Following the opening, a few small cuts facilitated the work's spanking pace, coruscating brilliance, and unflagging effervescence escalating, at frequent intervals, into irresistible tunefulness. In the upshot, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein became an immediate international hit, playing to rapt audiences in Vienna, London, and New York before the year was out. ---Adrian Corleonis, Rovi

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