Le Postillon de Lonjumeau
Michael Spyres, Florie Valiquette, Franck Leguerinel, Laurent Kubla, Michel Fau, Yannis Ezziadi, Julien Clement, Rouen Opera Orchestra/Sebastien Rouland; dir. Michel Fau (Rouen, 2019)
Naxos 2.110662 (DVD) 137 mins
Best remembered for his ballet Giselle (1841), Adolphe Adam (1803-56) was a leading light of the French musical theatre for some 30 years. Of his 36 opéras comiques, two or three were long-term successes – especially the present work, unveiled in 1836 and eventually running up some 569 performances at the Paris Opéra Comique itself, as well as appearing at numerous other theatres throughout Europe and beyond. It’s an unashamedly lightweight entertainment, in which the discovery of a local coachman’s extraordinary tenor voice leads to him being whisked off to become a star at the Paris Opéra, leaving behind his recently married wife – though she eventually comes to claim him.
Adam’s neat, charming writing is impeccable and one recognises the sinuous melodic lines of the composer of Giselle. This witty and visually-ingenious 2019 production by Michel Fau (costumes by Christian Lacroix, no less) was the first at its point of origin in 115 years. Dialogue is vital and convincing.
Michael Spyres possesses exactly the supple, agile voice required for the title role, revelling in the role’s delicious top notes. As his wife Madeleine, Florie Valiquette offers character in abundance and a technical fluency equivalent to her tenor partner.
Franck Leguérinel makes a grandly over-the-top Marquis de Corcy while director (and French comic star) Fau enjoys himself in the drag role of Madeleine’s confidante, Rose. Conductor Sébastien Rouland supplies the lightest of touches, while the chorus and orchestra are excellent.