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Charles LECOCQ (1832-1918)
La Fille de Madame Angot operetta (1872)
(complete, abridged, with dialogue in French)
Colette Riedinger (sop) Clairette Angot, Suzanne Lafaye (sop) Mademoiselle Lange, Gabriel Bacquier (ten) Ange Pitou, Georgette Spanellys (sop) Amaranthe, Bernard Alvi (ten) Pomponnet, Louis Musy (bar) Larivaudière
Richard Blareau, conductor
Rec. Universal France (Decca) Studios, Antony, France 1958.
mono (2 CDs for the price of one)

This 2CD set forms one of a series of 20 operettas re-released by Accord (Musidisc), France and available in the UK from Discovery.

Charles Lecocq was a Parisian, born of poor parents in 1832. He managed to get into the Conservatoire in Paris where he studied under Auber. A contemporary of Bizet and Saint-Saëns he went on to share with Bizet the grand prize for Offenbach’s operetta writing competition in 1856. He loved the creative potential of the theatre and became involved with it for the rest of his life.

In Madame Angot, Lecocq skilfully weaves delightful melodies of a variety of styles. The music, like that of Varney, is characteristic of Offenbach, but his orchestrations are more inventive. The music sweeps along with delightful melodies and motifs: it is clear that Lecocq was a first class musician. It is understandable that sheet music of Lecocq's Madame Angot dance arrangements sold extraordinarily well.

The story is well known in France: a market girl is adopted by a comfortable family and is brought up in a superior manner. Lecocq’s libretto concentrates on the activities of Angot's unexpectedly charming daughter, Clairette rather than Angot herself. Set in the 1790s following the French Revolution and at the time of the formidable French Directoire, the staging makes use of the magnificent costumes of the period to provide a visual spectacle (not dissimilar to the effect found in My Fair Lady).

Gabriel Bacquier has a fitting strength of voice with considerable range and elegant falsetto for the part of Fitou. He is well supported by Suzanne Lafaye in the Act II duet 'Voyons, Monsieur' [CD1 tk.17]. I found Colette Riedinger somewhat shrill and harsh in her role of Clairette and preferred some of her other roles in this series of CD sets. Georgette Spanellys is effectively forceful and gives a good portrayal as a chirpy Amarante with good diction [CD1 tk.6].

In this performance only two pieces are omitted, a comic duet in Act I and the ballet of Act III. Blareau handles the orchestra beautifully, nicely regulating pace throughout, particularly in the overture. I notice that he knocks a minute off the usual five minute overture yet it does not sound rushed (and I cannot detect that the piece was abridged). The pace is generally quicker than that of the other available recording (EMI), but rarely does one consider it disagreeable. Only a particularly rushed Act I opening introduction and chorus is disappointing: here the chorus is rather recessed and the music taken too quickly for clarity of notes or clear annunciation of words.

The dry acoustics may not be perfect, yet the characters play their roles with conviction. Towards the end of CD tk.3 (3'10" in) a patch of 'ripple' was detected on the woodwind passages and seemed to indicate a crease in the master tape. There are no other transfer problems.

Brief notes in French are provided in the attractive card case.

Raymond Walker

Other sets in the Accord 'Operette' series:

Audran, La Mascotte [465 877-2];
Benatzky, L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc [465 880-2];
Christiné, Dédé [461 961-2] Phi-Phi [465 886-2];
Dumas, Ignace [472 877-2];
Ganne, Les Saltimbanques [465 868-2];
Goulblier, La Cocarde de Mimi Pinson [461 964-2];
Lecocq, La Fille de Madame Angot [465 883-2] Le Petit Duc [472 874-2]; Lehár, Paganini [472 868-2] Rose de Noel [472 871-2];
Maillart, Les Dragons de Villars [472 865-2];
Messager, Véronique [465 864-2];
Offenbach, La Belle Hélène [461 954-2] La Fille du Tambour Major [461 673-2] La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein [465 871-2];
Planquette, Les Cloches de Corneville [465 861-2];
J Strauss, Trois Valses [461 958-2];
Yvain, La-Haut [461 967-2].

Operette series from Universal Accord reviewed by Ray Walker
Further reading: "Operetta", Traubner (Oxford 2003); ‘Musicals", Ganzl (Carlton 1995)

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