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The Sunday Opera: Jacques Offenbach's "Le Voyage dans la Lune"

We’re going back into space on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/23 3:00 p.m.), and this time, it’s with the help of Jacque Offenbach and his extremely loose adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel “From the Earth to the Moon and a Trip Around It” titled “Le Voyage dans la Lune.”

In the libretto by Albert Vanloo, Eugene Leterrier, and Arnold Mortier, we follow Prince Caprice (Violette Polchi) who, with his father King Vlan (Matthieu Lecroart), and a scientist named Microscope (Raphael Bremard) all climb into a shell and are fired out of a huge gun in order to get to the moon.

Once on the moon, they meet King Cosmos (Thibaut Desplantes), his wife Popotte (Marie Lenormand), and their daughter Fantasia (Sheva Tehoval), and trouble begins when Caprice gives Fantasia a bite of an apple which she has never had before and which appears to work as an aphrodisiac on moon people. Since love is not a “thing” on the moon, Fantasia is believed to have caught a “disease.”

It just gets sillier from there, but it is a great deal of fun, and the music is lovely. The cast is charming and play multiple roles in this recording which also features Pierre Derhet, Christophe Poncet de Solages, and Ludivine Gombert. The performance is conducted by Pierre Dumoussaud.

This show was huge, and sadly, we won’t get to see any of the 673 costumes or 24 huge set pieces which include that huge cannon mentioned earlier as well as a crystal palace, and erupting volcano that expels several cast members and dumps volcanic ash all over the set, but we can imagine!

Offenbach is the man of the afternoon, and we’ll hear a few more of his pieces after the opera. Two of them were works he wrote for himself since he was a superb cellist. They are the Concerto Rondo in G major for Cello and Orchestra and the Concerto Militaire. We’ve also got a charming waltz he wrote after spending time in the spa city of d’Aix-les-Bains, and just for fun, we’ll hear the ballet of the flies from “Orpheus in the Underworld.”

Join us this Sunday for a long-forgotten opera (with two wonderful ballets) and more delightful music by Offenbach that’s sure to please.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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