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Offenbach Dessay Orpheus

In his famous "opera bouffe" Orpheus in the Underworld, Jacques Offenbach explores in a comic way the tragic story of lovers Orpheus and Eurydice. It is staged here by Laurent Pelly at the Opéra National de Lyon and performed by Natalie Dessay (Eurydice) and Yann Beuron (Orpheus).

In this funny version of Orphée's ancient myth, his highly famous complaint "I have lost my Eurydice" seems to be a victory roar... In this opera composed after a libretto by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy, premiered in 1858 at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Offenbach and the librettists give characters back to life in a highly humorous way.

It is the story of a domestic squabble between bitter lovers Eurydice and Orpheus: Eurydice is fed up with Orpheus musical talent, but they cannot break off. So that Orpheus decides to ask shepherd Aristaeus – who is Pluto himself disguised – for his help. He wants him to seduce Eurydice to lead her die in a trap. Eurydice dies and goes to the Underworld. Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but Public Opinion comes to moralize Orpheus: he must save his honour in saving Eurydice...

The fanciful staging perfectly highlights Offenbach's Genius and humor: indeed he was the composer who created the genre of French "opéra bouffe". Natalie Dessay and Yann Beuron remarkably perform this opera with voices full of expressiveness and a beautiful stage presence. They really transform this domestic squabble into a funny story.

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French soprano Natalie Dessay first rose to global prominence in 1990, winning first prize at the International Mozart Competition in Vienna. In the years to follow, she made her debuts with the Opéra Bastille, Vienna, Lyons, Aix-en-Provence, Metropolitan, and La Scala opera houses, returning to the Met in 1997 in Adriane and The Tales of Hoffman. After making her solo recording debut on EMI in 1995 with a set of Mozart concert arias, she released French Opera Arias in 1996, and the LP Vocalises in 1998. Recordings of operas by composers such as Mozart, Donizetti, Monteverdi, and Bellini followed in the 2000s, as did solo albums including 2007's Italian Opera Arias and 2009's Bach: Cantatas. In 2013, Erato released Entre Elle et Lui, which saw Dessay accompanied by Michael Legrand on his own songs. That same year, after appearing at the Met in Handel's Giulio Cesare and in Toulouse as Massenet's Manon, Dessay, still in her late forties, retired from the opera stage.

The singer returned to the studio, however, and in 2016 released her first English-language album, Pictures of America. Consisting of selections from the Great American Songbook, it was released by Sony Classical. A year later, the same label issued Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, a previously unrecorded Legrand oratorio for one voice and orchestra that had been offered to Barbra Streisand in the '70s. ~ Marcy Donelson & Jason Ankeny

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