WHY NOT THIS HELENE?
ALAIN ROBERT | ST-HUBERT,QUÉBEC | 08/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OFFENBACH's most famous operetta has had a few recordings in recent years:one with FELICITY LOTT and another with JESSYE NORMAN.This one made in 1970 with DANIELE MILLET as HELENE is offered at a good price and is just as good.It also has the merit of having a complete FRENCH cast.It's nearly impossible to get bored with OFFENBACH,unless of course your knowing of the FRENCH language is limited.HELENE the goddess will elevates your senses by making you fall for her beauty.Like most men,i love goddesses;how about you?"
Excellent, very French recording of a gem
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 01/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Source: 1970 studio recording from EMI Music France.
Sound: Good 1970s stereo.
Format: Dialogue and musical sequences are segregated onto separate tracks.
Text: For some incomprehensible reason, the producers saw fit to issue this set in a "phonographic edition." From time to time a narrator talks over the music to set the scene. Fortunately, this exceedingly annoying young woman does not appear very often; nevertheless, you are wise to keep the remote control near at hand in order to zap her out.
Documentation: No libretto. Track list. Photograph of Offenbach in all his weird-looking glory. Brief commentary on the origin and content of "La belle Helene" and an even briefer summary of its plot by act. (For the curious, the mysterious Jean Laforge, whose name appears several times in the Amazon track list, turns out to be the chorus master.)
This recording is part of what must have been a pretty joyous period of revival of the classic operettas in France during the late 1960s. "La belle Helene" is one of a series that includes "La fille de Madame Angot", "La Perichole", "Les Cloches de Corneville" and even a couple of Lehar pieces disguised (to American and, alas, to many Canadian eyes) as, "Le pays du sourrire" and "La Veuve joyeuse".
This is an all-French cast in a production that adheres rigidly to the concept of operetta as a light, bright, witty form. Even so, the Helene, Daniele Millet has a most pleasing and surprisingly full mezzo voice. The always excellent Michel Dens is her brother-in-law, Agamemnon, the Big Boss in Greece. Paris is portrayed by Charles Burles, who has a very bright, boyish sound capable of soaring into the stratosphere. (He has a ball with his first big tune, "Au mont Ida", in which he tells of a beauty contest he has just finished judging--"Evo-EEE!") The other singers are all good and well-suited to the piece.
Helen, the feather-brained wife of the King of Sparta has heard of a divine beauty contest in which the bribe offered to the judge was the most beautiful woman in the world. Since she knows she is the most beautiful woman in the world, she feels concerned ... somehow. The judge turns up in sparta. His name is Paris and he happens to be a son of the king of far-off Troy. Helen is attracted to the handsome Trojan. The Trojan is attracted to Helen. Helen's husband objects strongly! The lovers are united by a strategem and they sail off to Troy to live happily ever after ... or maybe not.
"La belle Helene" is full of bouncy, rollicking tunes and even a couple of very Viennese-sounding waltzes. Give it a try."