(L to R) Sopranos Amel Brahim-Djelloul and Sophie Junker in Une Éducation Manquée, Opera Lafayette (photo by Louis Forget)
The libretto, by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo, recounts the dilemma of a young married couple, played by two sopranos, who have reached their wedding night without really knowing about what they are supposed to do with each other when the lights are out. The husband, Gontran, calls back his drunken tutor, Master Pausanias, to berate him on account of this deficiency in his education, but the elderly abbé is not much help. Only when lightning and thunder strike, driving the wife, Hélène, into her husband's arms, does the hapless couple figure things out.
Soprano Sophie Junker was a wide-eyed Hélène, with some bell-like top notes and a beautiful overall tone, with soprano Amel Brahim-Djelloul a little more tested at the high end but showing a charming boyishness in the trouser role of Gontran. Baritone Dominique Côté had smart comic timing as Pausanias, if some tentative qualities on the high parts of the role. Opera Lafayette extended the short work to about an hour of music by introducing the opera with four of Chabrier's charming animal-themed songs (Villanelle des petits canards, Pastorale des cochons roses, Les Cigales, and the hilarious Cocodette et Cocorico, in which a hen and rooster find each other). For these scenes director Bertrand Deletré created little vignettes showing the charmed youth of the two leads, played by an adorable group of child supernumeraries.
Anne Midgette, An evanescent French rarity by Chabrier returns to the stage (Washington Post, February 4)
This performance repeats Friday and Saturday, at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York.