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Pomme d’Api / Sur un volcan Offenbach CPO 555 268-2 Did you know that there is a volcano under Dublin that could erupt at any moment and take the city with it? Me neither. What a lacuna in our knowledge. Thankfully Offenbach is around to put us right with the operetta Sur un volcan, in which two invading French offi cers have Dublin under their control and have been cornered inside a large powder keg in the city centre and are threatening to blow themselves up, cause the underlying volcano to erupt and wipe out everyone and everything.

Sur un volcan has hardly had an explosive existence – one of those rather sad works whose premiere also turned out to be its last performance, like a fabulously bad Broadway musical. It remained forgotten since 1855 until the indefatigable Offenbach specialist Jean-Christophe Keck obtained the autographic score at auction in Paris in 2002 ‘after a long struggle’ – the wonderful image of musicologists wrestling over manuscripts in the saleroom seems worthy of Offenbach himself – and reconstructed it, including some missing pages that he suddenly remembered being shown photocopies of by the dean of the University of Koblenz. It all sounds more bizarre than the actual operetta itself, which is fun but not earth-shattering. Luckily it is partnered by Pomme d’Api, which is more substantial, with better music – the duet for soprano and tenor and the second trio are excellent. The same trio of singers appears in both operettas. Said soprano is Magali Léger, rather slight of voice, but idiomatic. The tenor is Florian Laconi who has a graceful sound, and who makes light of his arias in Pomme with their tricky vocal placement. The baritone is Marc Barrard who has the useful knack of being serious in order to highlight the essential frivolity of what he is actually saying. No librettos, but if you follow French, the diction throughout is crisp and clear.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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