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All in all, it would have been a disappointing evening if Pido and his cast had not given such a fine, stylish musical performance. With a predominantly Francophone cast, the music and the words were delivered with style. Laurent Naouri was a little over the top as Fritelli and he is, perhaps, not able to deliver the music in such a suave manner as he once could, but he has a nice comic touch and managed the balance between comedy and seriousness very well, something that is essential in this lugubrious operetta. Yann Beuron made a delightful Nagis; his voice did not sound as free as it did last year in the Chatelet Theatre's La Grande Duchess de Gerolstein, but he is a charming and winning performer, like Naouri he balanced comedy with seriousness. Nicola Rivenq made a stylish and handsome Henri de Valois; he sang Henri's opening solo, in which he longs for his homeland, with a beautifully haunting sense of melancholy, but Rivenq had a twinkly charm in the more comic pieces.

Magali Léger as the slave girl Minka had some of Chabrier's most elaborate and lovely music; Léger delivered it with relative ease, cheerfully throwing herself into the hackneyed portrayal of a slave girl. As imperious Alexiana, Maryline Fallot displayed a nice line in temperament; she was not always quite comfortable in the coloratura passages though she displayed a fine line in the more lyric music.

In the role of Laski, Franck Leguérinel was given little to do other than overact, which he did magnificently or tediously depending on your point of view. The smaller roles were all well cast from members of the Lyons Opera company.

Le Roi malgré lui - Opéra de Lyon. Photo © Gérard Amsellem
Le Roi malgré lui - Opéra de Lyon. Photo © Gérard Amsellem

If we did not come away singing the praises of Pelly's production we did leave the theatre humming Chabrier's lovely melodies, secure in the knowledge that we were unlikely to hear as fine a musical performance as this for a long time.

Copyright © 10 March 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK



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