I try to focus on the rare and strange in my Opera Preview, and it reminds me to look for reviews of operatic oddities around the world. That was the case with the production of Emmanuel Chabrier's little-known opera L'Étoile (borrowed from the 2001 version at Glimmerglass and New York City Opera) at L'Opéra de Montréal, from November 5 to 17, which I would have loved to have heard. There were some reviews, beginning with Jim Lowe (Montréal Opera's 'L'Étoile' is a sexy romp, November 10) for -- wait for it -- the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus:
Gilbert and Sullivan with sex and sophisticated music? In fact, Emmanuel Chabrier's comic operetta "L'Étoile" received one of its early runs at the famous G and S haunt, London's Savoy Theatre. L'Opéra de Montréal opened a charming and hilarious production of this sophisticated comedy Saturday at the Place des Arts' Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Employing excellent young Canadian singers — largely from Montreal — it benefited from stylish sets and costumes created jointly by Glimmerglass Opera and New York City Opera for their 2001 production.Alan Conter's review (A light entertainment is in the stars, November 8) for the Toronto Globe and Mail was also positive:
At first you have to wonder what's with the current revival of Emmanuel Chabrier's silly 1877 operetta L'Étoile. It can't be the score. Pretty as it is, a half-hour after leaving the theatre you'd be hard-pressed to hum a few bars. So is the book funny enough that a good half-dozen North American companies are staging it through 2006? A closer look reveals that opera companies aren't banking on Chabrier at the box office. They're nuts about Mark Lamos's brilliantly whimsical interpretation of L'Étoile. Lamos collaborated with Andrew Lieberman (sets) and Constance Hoffman (costumes) to design the show in 2001 for the Glimmerglass Opera and the New York City Opera. It's a production that Eddy and Patsy of AbFab fame would swoon over -- a light political satire dressed up in a contemporary take on sixties excess. It is fabulous.Watch for it when this production comes to an opera theater near you.