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Offenbach: La Belle Hélène

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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(Jun 29, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

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

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Felicity Lott, Michel Sénéchal, Yann Beuron, François Le Roux
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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 (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EQI06
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,811 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 finally started watching it one evening but turned it off almost immediately because I found the opening set of arias un petit peu tros longue...Went back to it several days later, skipped through the DVD, and finally sat down and watched it from beginning to end. Now it's become one of my favorite ways to wind down the day--watching one or more acts of La Belle Helene.

Flott is priceless. The look of resigned indignation when Michel Senechal (Menelaus) curls himself up against her when the bolt of lightning strikes at the end of Act One; her conspiratorial glances to the audience during the Love Duet in Act Two, and then, her sashaying around as a drunk Helen at the end of Act Three are all magnificent. Michel's acting abilities come into full play in the Patriotic Trio (which is extremely funny.) And I could go down the list....

Very, very, enjoyable.
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By T. C. on October 19, 2005
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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