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David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2020

MESSAGER, A.: Fortunio [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2019) (NTSC) 2.110672
MESSAGER, A.: Fortunio [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2019) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0119V

Andre Messager has been described as the last true master of French operetta, which he created with consummate style and elegance, but is now almost forgotten.

He had already enjoyed much success when, as the newly appointed Director of the Paris Opera, Messager was both the composer and conductor in 1907 of Fortunio, a work that remained in the company’s repertoire until 1948. For his part, he had dedicated his compositional life to the theatre leaving us with six ballets and thirty ‘Opera comique’, many at the time entering the repertoire, with Fortunio coming at a time when ‘risqué’ plays were highly fashionable, and also very good for the box-office. Into that period of time came Alfred de Musset’s play, Le Chandelier, which had already captured the attention of composers including Offenbach and Auber. Messager’s skilled librettists provided him with the hugely successful story called Fortunio. In four acts, it returns us to days when, in high society, a ‘patsy’ was used to hide an affair that was being enjoyed by a wife, particularly if she was young and married to an old wealthy man. Along comes the young Fortunio, recently arriving from a sheltered country life, when his meeting with the beautiful young Jacqueline, recently married, was about to change his life. I am not about to spoil your pleasure by relating the outcome, but with Messager’s tuneful score, and with the Stage Director, Denis Podalydes, adding a production of period glamour, the scene is set for our very naughty bedroom delectation. Looking ideal as the gorgeous wife, the Belgium soprano, Anne Catherine Gillet, has the exciting voice perfect for the wife, while the lightweight approach of the French tenor, Cyrille Dubois, as the innocent young man, is ideal. Franck Leguerinel is the cuckolded husband, and Jean-Sebastien Bou is the dashing Captain Clavaroche already enjoying her in bed, are vocally and visually perfect. There is a long supporting cast list, the Orchestre Des Champs-Elysees is conducted by Louis Langree. Filmed ‘live’ last December, the technical crew are well versed in theatre work. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

Records International, October 2020

MESSAGER, A.: Fortunio [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2019) (NTSC) 2.110672
MESSAGER, A.: Fortunio [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2019) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0119V

Fortunio premiered in 1907 at the Opéra Comique, where it received acclaim that was to last decades. Taking Alfred de Musset’s play “Le Chandelier” as his source, Messager explored upper-class society at the turn of the 19th century with subtlety of characterization and a thoroughly French orchestral transparency. © 2020 Records International

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