August 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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DVD ReviewDVD Review

Jacques OFFENBACH
Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld)
  ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 100 402   [143 mins]


I choose to review this DVD because the comic opera is one of the most popular penned by Jacques Offenbach. It is a not only a brilliant satire on the myths of the Greek Gods but also on the politics of 19th century France, satire that is just as biting and as pertinent to the mores of today. In fact everybody bows to (what they perceive as) Public Opinion personified as in this witty and colourful production as a char lady (think of her more as a dressed down Maureen Lipman than a sagging-stockinged Nora Batty as Peter Quantrill rather unkindly suggests in his exceedingly funny review of this DVD on our sister site MusicWeb.) But it is the memorable tunes and those can-can dances that persuaded me to view this production. And of course we are so used to enjoying such revelries in so many films set in Paris (what a shame we can no longer say without gross misunderstandings 'Gay Paree'!)

Certainly the purists will find much to grumble at and no doubt they will agree with much that Peter Quantrill has to say but for all that nothing can dim the exuberance and gaiety of Offenbach's vision. There are many strengths: the striking sets and sumptuous costumes and Elisabeth Vidal's nicely voluptuous Eurydice so understandably full of ennui at the cavorting of all the clowns surrounding her and those catchy tunes. I have endured much more boring evenings at the opera than this. Worth a look.

Ian Lace

***

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