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The acclaimed Offenbach edition is much in evidence with numerous productions of Orpheus in the Underworld, performances of Les Brigands in Berlin and Frankfurt, Le Voyage dans la lune in Vienna, and a historic return of Fantasio to the Salle Favart in Paris.

The 2023/24 season is bringing a rich calendar of stagings and concert presentations employing the acclaimed Offenbach Edition Keck, both of the composer’s much-loved classic stageworks and of rare repertoire to be rediscovered. The collaboration between Boosey & Hawkes and leading Offenbach scholar Jean-Christophe Keck, has been a game-changer for Offenbach’s music over the past quarter of a century and a major publishing success story.

The Komische Oper Berlin continues its series of Offenbach semi-stagings with Les Brigands, premiered successfully in Paris in 1869 but whose trajectory was deflected by the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. Two performances on 17 and 30 December are presented by actor/director Max Hopp at the Komische Oper’s alternative venue, the Schiller Theatre. The three act opéra-bouffe is a biting satire on political systems whose representatives are more corrupt and criminal than all the professional robbers added together. A full stage production of Les Brigands follows at the Frankfurt Opera in a new production by Katharina Thoma, opening on 28 January.

December also sees Berlin performances of Barrie Kosky’s crazy production of Orpheus in the Underworld first seen at the Salzburg Festival in 2019. The staging by the Komische Oper at the Schiller Theatre, which includes a virtuoso turn by Max Hopp taking on all the dialogue as well as the role of the underworld butler John Styx, opens on 6 December. To end the year, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg presents two performances of Orpheus on 30 and 31 December, staged by Romain Gilbert and witnessing the welcome return of conductor Marc Minkowski, who guided such a successful version in Lyon in 1997 mixing Offenbach’s 1858 and 1874 versions.

Other notable appearances of Orpheus this season have included further performances of the winningly eccentric staging by the English physical comedy troupe Spymonkey at the Vienna Volksoper, productions in Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Dortmund over the autumn, plus a staging at the Chemnitz Opera next February.

Turning to other Offenbachiana, Max Hopp’s hilarious production of Barkouf, whose satirical plot tells of a city governed by a dog, is revived in Zürich this month. The Opéra Comique’s acclaimed staging of La Périchole, directed by Valérie Lesort, rounds off the year at the Opéra de Tours. Next spring sees a return of Josef Köpplinger's celebrated Dresden production of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein to the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich.

Laurent Pelly's charming and visually stunning staging of Offenbach's opéra-féerie Le Voyage dans la lune, first seen at the Opéra Comique in Paris, has been presented at the Volksoper in Vienna as a family opera, employing a new German translation for the Offenbach Edition Keck by Stefan Troßbach. Thomas Jolly's enchanting and much-travelled production of Fantasio is being revived in Paris this month, witnessing the work’s first return to the Salle Favart since its premiere staging there in 1871. This romantic opera remains ever-topical, with its appeal for civil disobedience as autocratic rulers destroy their populations in senseless wars out of a thirst for power.

The OEK's first production of Offenbach's opéra-comique Robinson Crusoé, with its Defoe-inspired hero caught between pirates and cannibals, was staged in the UK by West Green House Opera in July in a production by Thomas Guthrie under the musical direction of David Parry. In 2024, this rare romantic masterpiece, of which there is still no recording of the original French version, will be presented in a major new production in France.

New Recordings:

La Périchole
Stéphanie d’Oustrac, Philippe Talbot, Tassis Christoyannis, Eric Huchet, Lionel Peintre / Choir Les éléments / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris / Julien Leroy
(Opéra Comique Paris 2022, dir. Valerie Lesort)
Naxos DVD 2.110756 / Blu-ray NBD0168V

La Princesse de Trébizonde
Virginie Verrez, Anne-Catherine Gillet, Antoinette Dennefeld, Katia Ledoux, Josh Lovell, Christophe Gay, Christophe Mortagne, Loïc Félix / Opera Rara Chorus / London Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Daniel
Opera Rara ORC63

>  Further information on Work: Les Brigands (OEK critical edition)

Offenbach Caricature by Franz Gaul dated 1860 (© Archive Jean-Christophe Keck)

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