Les Aventures du Roi Pausole – operetta in three acts H76 (1929-30) [72:05]
Le Roi Pausole - Mattijs van de Woerd
Taxis - Ambroz Bajec Lapajne
Aline La Blanche - Simone Riksman
Giglio - Fabio Trümpy
Mirabelle - Rea Kost-Fueter
Le Métayer - Niklaus Kost
Diane À La Houppe - Francis van Broekhuizen
Dame Perchuque - Adelaïde Rouyer
Thierrette - Marijje van Stralen
Queens - Koninginnen Wendy Roobol, Anne Christine Wemekamp, Murni Suwetja,
Martha Bosch, Olga Zinovieva, Suzanne Lena
Opera Trionfo
Nieuw Ensemble/Ed Spanjaard
rec. December 2008, Muziekcentrum van de Omroep, Studio 1, Netherlands. DDD
Full track-list at end of review

Les Aventures du Roi Pausole is unusual Honegger and rarely encountered. It’s in a disconcerting style meshed between Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, romantic tendencies and vaudeville satire. There’s a touch of Ibert about the music as well as some Iberian spirit. It is perhaps no surprise that in a later operetta Honegger collaborated with Ibert.

Pausole played to great acclaim at the Bouffes Parisiens on 12 December 1930 and ran for some 500 nights. There were revivals at the Théâtre des Capucines in 1947 and in Lausanne in 1990. The complete score was recorded in August 1992 in Zurich by Mario Venzago with a cast that included Gabriel Bacquier, Rachel Yakar and Michel Senechal. As far as I know that recording is no longer available. Honegger wrote Pausole between the Cello Concerto and the First Symphony. There were to be two more operettas after Pausole.

The story is a bit involved and inconsequential but at its centre is King Pausole who ruled over the anything-goes kingdom of Tryphème with a queen for each night of the year. Amorous entanglements abound amid innocence, allure and seduction. Honegger is good at pompous as well - witness the Entrée Des Bois De La Justice like some puffed up G&S chorus. Every instrumental effect is perfectly polished: chuckling and superbly finessed as in the saucy Prelude to Act II. French musical theatre style is beguiling done – try the tongue-twisting flutter of Septuor Des Sept Avis Différents. It’s captivating. One can see perhaps where Sondheim may have mined some of his inspiration for A Little Night Music and A Funny Thing Happened …. The chorus have considerable prominence especially the sweet-toned females. Wah-wah jazz informs the sleazy Sortie Américaine Du Roi. The sleepy sentimental Air D’Aline is a gift to any soprano – an irresistible lullaby for grown-up babies and a match for similar songs by Canteloube and Nin. The piece is packed with fresh invention. Every aspect of this recording shows wonderful sensitivity and adroit advocacy. One wonders why this work has not become more popular. It would be grist to the mill of any budding Previn or Bernstein.

There is a substantial booklet and the sung words are printed though no English translation. There is however a good synopsis in English.

Rob Barnett

One wonders why this work has not become more popular. A winner.

Full track listing:
1. Ouverture [3:30]
2. Acte I: Choeur De La Sieste [2:09]
3. Acte I: Sortie Des Reines [0:34]
4. Acte I: Air De Taxis [2:32]
5. Acte I: Air De La Blanche Aline [4:19]
6. Acte I: Ballet [6:12]
7. Acte I: Entrée Des Bois De La Justice [1:53]
8. Acte I: Air De Giglio [1:27]
9. Acte I: Septuor Des Sept Avis Différents [1:16]
10. Acte I: Sortie Des Reines [0:24]
11. Acte I: Final [3:21]
12. Acte II: Prélude [0:58]
13. Acte II: Choeur Des Fermières [1:49]
14. Acte II: Duo Du Travesti [2:32]
15. Acte II: Ritournelle De La Mule [0:47]
16. Acte II: Cantate ‘Vive le Roi Pausole’ [1:09]
17. Acte II: Air De La Coupe De Thulé [2:43]
18. Acte II: Sortie Américaine Du Roi [0:43]
19. Acte II: Trio ‘Vos Joues Sont D’Exquises Pêches’ [3:55]
20. Acte II: Air D’Aline [3:03]
21. Acte II: Air de Diane [3:16]
22. Acte II: Duetto De La Révolte [1:22]
23. Acte II: Final [4:40]
24. Acte III: Choeur Des Soubrettes [1:13]
25. Acte III: Duo Du Rêve [4:03]
26. Acte III: Entrée Du Chocolat Espagnol [2:18]
27. Acte III: Air De Taxis [1:50]
28. Acte III: Duo Du Téléphone [2:05]
29. Acte III: Air De Giglio [2:03]
30. Acte III: Les Adieux De Pausole [2:26]
31. Acte III: Final [1:13]