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Orphee Aux Enfers (TDK DVD)
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Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Hearing Dessay's coloratura voice buzzing like a fly is delightfully jarring. John Styx sings a tasty aria about once being king of Boeotia.
Its never-changing rhythm and melismas parody eighteenth century love ballads. Dessay is splendid as the spoiled and willful Eurydice, always ready to strain her voice for comic effect. When Orpheus complains to the gods of his stolen Eurydice, he sings a tender quote from Gluck's "J'ai perdu mon Eurydice," which Diana, Cupid, and Venus promptly mock with croaky voices.
The "Rondo-Saltarelle" of Mercury is lively and spirited, but the "Aux Armes, dieux et demi-dieux" chorus, in which the gods and demi-gods protest their ambrosia, reveals how well Offenbach could caricature the stirring military choruses of Verdian high opera. This music rivals Rossini's in its sheer catchiness.
Even the recitatives — and there are many — breeze by, aided by snatches of indignation, accusation, and general over-the-top acting. He wrote two other versions. The scene changes to Olympus, where the Gods are sleeping "Dormons, dormons". Il s'avance". The other gods beg to come with him, he consents, and mass celebrations break out at this holiday "Gloire!
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Partons, partons". Eurydice is being kept locked up by Pluton, and is finding life very tedious. Her gaoler is a dull-witted tippler by the name of John Styx. Before he died, he was King of Boeotia a region of Greece that Aristophanes made synonymous with country bumpkins ,  and he sings Eurydice a doleful lament for his lost kingship.
Jupiter discovers where Pluton has hidden Eurydice, and slips through the keyhole by turning into a beautiful, golden fly.
OFFENBACH: ORPHÉE AUX Enfers Dessay Minkowski 2 CD - $ | PicClick
He meets Eurydice on the other side, and sings a love duet with her where his part consists entirely of buzzing "Duo de la mouche". Pluton is left furiously berating John Styx. The scene shifts to a huge party the gods are having, where ambrosia, nectar, and propriety are nowhere to be seen "Vive le vin! Vive Pluton! Jupiter insists on a minuet, which everybody else finds boring "La la la. Le menuet n'est vraiment si charmant".
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Things liven up as the most famous number in the opera, the "Galop infernal", begins, and all present throw themselves into it with wild abandon "Ce bal est original". The plot is essentially that of the version. Instead of two acts with two scenes apiece, the later version is in four acts, which follow the plot of the four scenes of the original.
The revised version differs from the first in having several interpolated ballet sequences, and some extra characters and musical numbers. The additions do not affect the main narrative but add considerably to the length of the score. In Act 2 Mercure is given a solo entrance number "Eh hop!
Offenbach: Orphée aux Enfers Dessay Minkowski 2 CD
In Act 3, Eurydice has a new solo, the "Couplets des regrets" "Ah! The score of the opera, which formed the pattern for the many full-length Offenbach operas that followed, is described by Faris as having an "abundance of couplets" songs with repeated verses for one or more singers , "a variety of other solos and duets, several big choruses, and two extended finales". Offenbach wrote in a variety of styles — from Rococo pastoral vein, via pastiche of Italian opera, to the uproarious galop — displaying, in Faris's analysis, many of his personal hallmarks, such as melodies that "leap backwards and forwards in a remarkably acrobatic manner while still sounding not only smoothly lyrical, but spontaneous as well".
In such up-tempo numbers as the "Galop infernal", Offenbach makes a virtue of simplicity, often keeping to the same key through most of the number, with largely unvarying instrumentation throughout. In the "duo de la mouche" Jupiter's part, consisting of buzzing like a fly, is accompanied by the first and second violins playing sul ponticello , to produce a similarly buzzing sound.
Faris instances three numbers from the second act version , which all are in the key of A major and use identical notes in almost the same order, "but it would be hard to imagine a more extreme difference in feeling than that between the song of the King of the Boeotians and the Galop ". In Thomas Schipperges wrote in the International Journal of Musicology that many scholars hold that Offenbach's music defies all musicological methods.
He did not agree, and analysed the "Galop infernal", finding it to be sophisticated in many details: "For all its straightforwardness, it reveals a calculated design. The overall 'economy' of the piece serves a deliberate musical dramaturgy. The orchestra at the Bouffes-Parisiens was small — probably about thirty players. For the premiere of the revised version he engaged an orchestra of sixty players, as well as a military band of a further forty players for the procession of the gods from Olympus at the end of the second act.
The music of the revision was well received by contemporary reviewers,   but some later critics have felt the longer score, with its extended ballet sections, has occasional dull patches. For more than a century after the composer's death one cause of critical reservations about this and his other works was the persistence of what the musicologist Nigel Simeone has called "botched, butchered and bowdlerised" versions. It was arranged by the Austrian musician Carl Binder — for the first production of the opera in Vienna, in Janin's furious condemnation did the work much more good than harm,  and was in contrast with the laudatory review of the premiere by Jules Noriac in the Figaro-Programme , which called the work, "unprecedented, splendid, outrageous, gracious, delightful, witty, amusing, successful, perfect, tuneful".
Orphée aux enfers
The music of Offenbach has retained its youth and spirit. The spectacle of the Olympian gods doing the cancan threatened nobody's dignity. After Offenbach's death his reputation in France suffered a temporary eclipse.