Synopsis by Nathan Southern
The German-born classical composer Jacques Offenbach pioneered the form of the opera bouffe, a forerunner of contemporary operetta with satirical overtones. That form is exemplified by La Vie Parisienne, a gay on-stage celebration of life in 1860s Paris that explores various forms of deception and ruse, from servants impersonating their hires to trollops pretending to be bourgeois matrons. Offenbach builds a freewheeling, carnivalesque recreation of Paris by day, before descending into the sadness that lingers when the celebration dies. Alain Franco's wickedly inventive and colorful 1991 production of this work -- which features a locomotive charging onto the stage -- comes to home video in the release La Vie Parisienne. Directed by Jean-Pierre Brossmann, the cast includes Helene Delavault, Claire Wauthion, Isabelle Mazin, Jean-Yves Chatelais, Jean-François Sivadier, and Jacques Verzier, backed by The Chorus and Orchestra of the Lyon National Opera.