Friday, April 14, 2006

La Belle Hélène

Forget all this boring stuff you've been reading in the newspaper and go see Offenbach's La Belle Hélène at the English National Opera.

The premise of the production is that a middle aged woman, such as the charming Felicity Lott, turns off the television, gets into bed for the night, smiles alluringly at her already asleep and uninterested husband, and dreams that she is Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. I bought it completely. She dreams of a hunky blond gentleman perhaps half her age who pursues her relentlessly, until at last she gives in.

Why not? After all, ones dreams are always in the prime of life, are they not? Though I think if I were fantasizing Greeks, I would not have imagined quite so much hair.

Would the French always have loved Josephine Baker and Jerry Lewis? It is easy to give oneself over to the passion of the Italians or the earnestness of the Germans, but it may be harder to allow oneself to feel the love of the absurd that is so French. Jacques Offenbach's works are more burlesques than operettas, though I did detect a bit of homage a Rossini.

PS. I had the ENO patented ginger ice cream in the interval. Very unusual.

[See Kinderkuchen History 1850-70]

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