5 de Diapason
Recordings of Offenbach's 1868 operetta La Périchole, here performed in an 1873 revision, have been rather uncommon. True, it doesn't contain any of the big Offenbach hits, and its Peruvian setting, with a variety of Spanish dances and chinoiserie standing in for whatever music might have been heard in colonial Peru, seems increasingly preposterous as time goes on. However, verisimilitude has never been a requirement in operetta, and this story of the titular street singer (who was an actual historical individual) pursued by a sleazy colonial administrator hits a lot of the bases. Anglophone listeners will note that Arthur Sullivan surely knew this music inside and out, and replicated the combination of limpid songs for the heroine and quite a few sharp narrative choruses. This production, recorded live in 2018 at the Festival Radio France Occitanie in Montpellier, is nothing fancy, but that is its charm. La Périchole is nicely sung by a mezzo-soprano with the delightful name of Aude Extrémo, who resists the temptation to ham it up (sample her drunk scene, "Ah, quel diner je viens de faire") and inhabits the role well. The large cast is consistent, and conductor Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, far from their Baroque origins, keep things moving in a lively way. One gets the sense that Offenbach would have been fully satisfied, and the recording is a must for any operetta fan.