La Vie Parisienne translates as Life in Paris, but, like some French food, Offenbach’s satire of life in Paris during the 1880’s does not translate well to our American taste.

Oh, how I wish I could write a good review of the Naxos release of the Jacques Offenbach La Vie Parisienne! With a phalanx of producers that includes FRA productions, Palazetto Bru Zane, the Royal Opera of Wallonia, the Opera of Rouen, the Théâtre de Champs Élysées, the National Opera Orchestra of Montpellier, the Limoges Opera, and the Tours Opera, the double CD, 3 hour long recording of the 157-year-old operetta by Offenbach loses much too much in translation.

I have no doubt that the silliness of the goings, the over-the-top staging and production design by Christian Lacroix, the antics of a large cast of operetta pros, and the libretto of Meilhac and Halévy all have lots of appeal to a French audience with a fondness for this sort of prank fest. Here on this side of the ocean we have been on and off treated to La Périchole, once in a great while to Orpheus in the Underworld, and once in a blue moon to The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. But other than Offenbach’s popular masterpiece, The Tales of Offenbach, none of his other works have arguably caught on with us. Perhaps it is our fault. Or perhaps it is the very French frenchness of Offenbach’s tunes, his humor, his librettists’ penchant for much too-subtle double-entendres.

Whatever the case there is no saving this DOA production of La Vie Parisienne.Rafael de Acha © 2023

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