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Offenbach: La Belle Hélène (2004)

Felicity Lott , Michel Sénéchal  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Offenbach: La Belle Hélène + Offenbach - Orphee aux Enfers + Offenbach: La Vie parisienne
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Product Details

  • Actors: Felicity Lott, Michel Sénéchal, Yann Beuron, François Le Roux
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2004
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EQI06
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,001 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Offenbach's parody of the origins of the Trojan War is a supreme manifestation of his comic genius.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars everytthing is beautiful June 17, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This La Belle Helene has been nominated for many awards and rightly so. It is so much fun. Dame Felicity Lott is a wonderful Helene, slightly older than Offenbach might have imagined, and this makes her performance so hilarious. She is a combination Lucille Ball and Joan Davis as she casts her eye on young Paris and yearns for him yet must present a proper outward appearance. And she sings gloriously!
The whole cast is oustanding and the operetta is presented with many clever bits. During the Dream Duet the chorus appears in the background as amorous sheep. In the first act Menelaus appears in his nightshirt while Paris, in the contest, has only a towel draped around him as he sings his Mt. Ida song. Best of all is the Act 1 conclusion. Though less than a minute long, Menalaus is whisked off on his journey to Crete by eight dancers dressed as travel agents who even manage to add a very brief Offenbach cancan to their highjinks. And a flight attendant briefly appears to lead the King away.
Hats off to Dame Felicity for a performence for the ages! And Offenbach must surely be smiling.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Production July 2, 2009
Format:DVD
I don't know what universe the previous reviewer Jackson is in, but this is a wonderful spoof on mythology, history, culture of the time it was written, and even spoofing Rossini's great male trio from William Tell. Mr Jackson must have no humour / brains. The more I listen to Offenbach, the more levels of satire I find, the more amazed I am at his genius.

And we have marvelous singer/actors here and clever costumes if you can read latin. Kasarova is excellent as Helene and the Afrikaaner Van der Walt has a nice lyric, yet masculine voice, easily soaring above high C.

While the staging is not elaborate, some cute business has characters occasionally interacting with the conductor, even descending into the pit. Very delightful.

If you have a sense of humour, you should enjoy this over and over!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL, FUNNY AND ORIGINAL June 19, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had never seen La Belle helene Before. Only heard it. This DVD is a must have. The whole cast is at her best, including Dame Felicity Lott. Maybe she is not Physically the perfect Helene (a little older for the role), but her singing and acting are the highest issues of this DVD. Costumes, stage design and choreography, makes this a wonderful experience and you can see it again and again and will enjoy it each time.

Very good sound and image quality (not usual for kultur's DVD's. I hope this label continue improving quality)

You will not regret to buy it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Belle Helene December 27, 2005
Format:DVD
Certainly the best Helene I've seen on DVD with almost perfect sound, this production lives up to this style of social satire of upper crust Belle Epoque French society, where an enraged husband's wrath upon finding his wife in bed with a lover is actually taken to task by everyone else for not properly warning her that he was coming home, and therefore the blame for the scandal is entirely his! The director's sense of the ridiculous extended to the fun costuming. I thought Lott's performance was enchanting simply because she is living her dream, and lord knows her Paris is no GQ model either, but they both sing the difficult roles beautifully (she's allowed to use the French version of the score's mezzo aria in Act III, although I really prefer the German version's coloratura tri-partite fireworks), and they include the Act III Patriotic Trio, another favorite. This is social satire at its most stinging, especially if the viewer has familiarized him/herself with the Parisian society of Offenbach's time. The slams at organized, cynical religion are right on target as well. Tempos are fine, attitude is wonderful, what's not to enjoy? Even the subtitles are accurate!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ! ! ! October 19, 2005
By T. C.
Format:DVD
This is a wonderful production. Felicity Lott lost some of her past vocal quality, but she is an amazing comic actress and the concept of the production suits her admirably. The rest of the cast is outstanding too. Minkowski knows how to extract all the fun and wit in Offenbach spirited music, and the director, Laurent Pelly is one of the most talented opera directors active today. Don't miss it! It is a gem!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars la Belle Helene September 2, 2006
Format:DVD
Some reviewers are fixated on the fact that Dame Feliciy Lott is too old and not beautiful enough to be Helen. But how many Brunnhildes could mount a horse without breaking its back? She makes good choices about how to present the role. What got lost here is how well everyone else fits their part. Especially, Marie-Ange Torodovitch is magnificent as Orestes. If you are going to quibble about beauty, Yann Beuron isn't handsome enough to be Paris, but he does a remarkably good job of being the sort of confident young punk that Paris should be, and his voice is great for his part. Michel Senechal is perfect for Menelaus as depicted here. Francois le Roux (Calchas) and Laurent Naouri (Agamemnon) are also good.

The staging is good, and the various time-warps involved fit with Offenbach's original time changes.

Bottom line: I thought this was a total blast--I've watched it many times, and would reccommend it to anyone who likes this kind of thing. It's a really funny and amusing operetta, well worth watching.

I did not have any problems with disc quality, which has apparantly been erratic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Satirical Offenbach interpreted extremely well
This is one of those operas that sneaks up on you. I bought the DVD (based on many of the reviews posted here), tossed it on the heap of "I'll watch someday" DVDs, and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by T. C. Sienko
5.0 out of 5 stars Deon van der Walt
When I came across this DVD, it touched my heard seiing that deon van der Walt was a fellow S A. citizen like me. Read more
Published 15 months ago by ludwig von beethoven
5.0 out of 5 stars Kasarova shines in a most enjoyable production despite some bizarre...
Prequel:
This review has been wrongly listed by Amazon under the Minkowski recording as well as being correctly listed under the Harnoncourt/Kasarova recording. Read more
Published 18 months ago by I. Giles
5.0 out of 5 stars If This Be "Euro-Trash" ...
... make the most of it!

This Parisian production of Offenbach's silliest operetta, La Belle Hélène, is flamboyantly 'updated' both in visual and dramatic... Read more
Published on August 28, 2011 by Giordano Bruno
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations Dashed
I was not familiar with this operetta, but I thought Harnoncourt and the Zurich Opera has got to be good. Read more
Published on September 25, 2010 by John Boyce
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable....but!
The key roles are quite well sung and played. Lott not only sings but swings in quite good fashion as do all the featured cast. Read more
Published on August 7, 2009 by drkhimxz
1.0 out of 5 stars La Belle Helene, Offenbach
Quality recording very good.The opera is silly, makes no sense. I own approximately one hundred and fifty opera recordings on DVD, this was without any doubt the wrost.
Published on June 29, 2009 by James E. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charmer
I don't know why it took me so long to acquire "Helene" on DVD since I have had a CD of it for many years. Read more
Published on September 16, 2008 by DDD
5.0 out of 5 stars ridiculous comments on Felicity Lott's age
I saw the operette only in live performance - and was very impressed.

Reading the comments here on amazon. Read more
Published on May 30, 2006 by no tv, no coffee
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