OFFENBACH: LA BELLE HELENE (Lott Dame Felicity/ Marc Minkowski/ Michel Sénéchal) (Arthaus Dvd: 107000)
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Staged and costumed by Laurent Pelly, with sets by Chantal Thomas and choreography by Laura Scozzi, this production of La Belle H?®l?¿ne never forgets for one moment that Offenbach's parody of the origins of the Trojan war - clearly recognizable in his day as a satire on the moral laxity of Second Empire high society - is, above all, a supreme manifestation of his comic genius. From start to finish it combines a musically superb performance with a stream of visual humour that flows from Pelly's core idea that the action all takes place in the imagination of a sleeping, sex-starved, suburban housewife.
Dame Felicity Lott is magnificent as the woman who gets into bed beside her somnolent old husband and dreams of being the most beautiful woman in the world, entangled in amorous adventures with the virile young Paris, tastily portrayed by Yann Beuron. And just as dreams do not respect the normal limitations of logic, time and place, so her night time fantasies combine the everyday with the mythical, and muddle up Greece, ancient and modern.