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“The White Lady” comes back gently to haunt the Opéra-Comique

Philippe Talbot (Georges Brown) and Elsa Benoit (Anna).
Philippe Talbot (Georges Brown) and Elsa Benoit (Anna). Christophe Raynaud de Lage

The last White Lady de Boieldieu appeared at the Opéra-Comique in 1997. At the helm, the director Jean-Louis Pichon and the conductor Marc Minkowski, who will engrave a remarkable version for EMI, before the 1999 revival. work coincides with the literary vogue in France of Walter Scott’s noir novel, which inspired Guy mannering, his Monastery and The Lady of the Lake Eugene Scribe’s booklet: a story of love and lost children, against the backdrop of a haunted Scottish castle.

Created in 1825 at the Opéra-Comique, the 26e Boieldieu’s opera is said to be a blow to Rossin’s supremacy. He will however reap the favors of the Pesaro Swan (Rossini saw a “Tour de force”), while Weber compared it qualitatively to Marriage of Figaro, and that Wagner, who directed it to Zurich, saw in it the mark of French genius. Huge public success too since The White Lady was the first title to reach a thousand performances. Classified as “national heritage”, the work earned its author to give his name to Place Boieldieu where the Opéra-Comique is located.

Elsa Benoît plays an explosive and determined Anna, whose pretty soprano will undoubtedly deliver the best moments of the evening

It is an understatement to say that the return from exile of The White Lady in his field was expected. It was first greeted by a cohort of technicians, whose fairly redundant opening speech on this day of national strike sparked the ire of an annoying impatient, before ending with loud applause which we do not know if they greeted the angry intervention of the quidam, the indictment of the intermittent of the spectacle against the pension reform, or the hope of a beginning of spectacle which nothing should disturb.

Not even the scene by Pauline Bureau, who seems to have resisted the vertigo of the blank page, producing a series of sketches, none of which will go to completion. Between old-fashioned decorations (the painted canvas reproduced in video mode), pseudo- costumesHighlander, fireworks and agreed direction of actor, time, which oscillates between fantastic pranks and catches and comic boulevard, sometimes seems to lengthen to the limits of the stall.

Balanced vocal plateau

Even the announced characterization of the young orphan, Anna, as a free woman, will result in a scene of domination, it is true quite tasty, while that which is none other than the White Lady, whip in hand and underwear of black leather under the muslin of her white dress, pluck the oath of obedience and loyalty from the young soldier she secretly loves. Which Georges Brown is none other than the amnesiac heir of Avenel Castle, whose heritage must be saved from the commoner’s claws of the former intendant who became wealthy. What will.

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