Magazine article Gramophone

Offenbach: Fantasio

Magazine article Gramophone

Offenbach: Fantasio

Article excerpt

Offenbach  Fantasio  Sarah Connolly mez              Fantasio Russell Braun bar       Prince of Mantua Robert Murray ten               Marinoni Brenda Rae sop          Princess Elsbeth Victoria Simmonds mez             Flamel Neal Davies bass-bar              Sparck Brindley Sherratt bass   King of Bavaria Aled Hall ten                      Facio Gavan Ring bar                  Hartmann 

Opera Rara Chorus; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Sir Mark Elder Opera Rara [F] [2] ORC51 (169' * DDD * S/T/t)

To say that Fantasio was one of Offenbach's more obscure operas would be putting it mildly. A failure at the Opera-Comique in 1872, a modest success at the Theater an der Wien, it seems to have disappeared from circulation until a lot of detective work led to the publication of the edition by Jean-Christophe Keck used for this recording and an associated performance in London last December.

The origins of the opera lie in a play by Alfred de Musset dating from 1834, reworked by Alfred's brother Paul for performance at the Comedie Frangaise in 1866. The plot is distincdy odd. Elsbeth, daughter of the King of Bavaria, is due to be married for reasons of state to the Prince of Mantua. Elsbeth is mourning the death of Saint-Jean, the hunchbacked court jester. Fantasio, 'un simple bourgeois de Munich', adopts the jester's costume and gait in order to ingratiate himself with the princess. Meanwhile the prince, anxious to ascertain her true feelings, has exchanged clothes with Marinoni, his aide-de-camp. When the court assembles, Fantasio, perched in a tree, removes Marinoni's wig. …

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