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Celebratory performances in 2019 feature works returned to the stage thanks to the Offenbach Edition Keck, including Fantasio, Barkouf and Le Roi Carotte.

Celebrations for Jacques Offenbach’s bicentenary this year bring more than 30 stagings employing the Offenbach Edition Keck published by Boosey & Hawkes. Over the past 20 years this authoritative edition, under the direction of leading Offenbach scholar Jean-Christophe Keck, has featured the publication of definitive full scores of the composer’s stageworks for the first time, together with the welcome return of lost works to the theatre and concert hall.

Offering a contrast to Offenbach’s satirical comic stageworks, Fantasio is a poignant lyrical opera revealing the lovelorn romantic hidden beneath the jester’s costume, marking it as a highly personal score for the composer. Its revival gathered momentum in 2013 thanks to an acclaimed recording by Opera Rara and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Mark Elder, with a starry cast including Sarah Connolly and Brenda Rae. A Paris staging of Fantasio by Thomas Jolly followed in 2017 with Marianne Crebassa in the title role, which has since travelled on to Rouen and Montpellier and received its Swiss premiere at the Geneva Opera. The first UK staging of Fantasio opens at Garsington Opera this month with a new English translation by Jeremy Sams, in a production by Martin Duncan with Hanna Hipp and Jennifer France in the lead roles.

“The score of Fantasio shows Offenbach at the top of his artistic game”.

In honour of Offenbach’s birthday on 20 June, the composer’s native city of Cologne provides celebrations under the title Yes We Can Can. A semi-staging of Fantasio is presented by Opera Zuid at the Philharmonie, following a Dutch tour of its new Benjamin Prins production, and festivities also include a new staging of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein by Cologne Opera. The company also hosts the German premiere of Offenbach’s Barkouf in October in Mariame Clément’s production first staged by Opéra du Rhin last year. This bitter-sweet satire, setting a libretto by Scribe and Boisseaux, sees a dog appointed as vizier to run the city government in Lahore. Die Zeit described the opéra-bouffe as “a masterwork – the sharpest musical satire of the 19th century” while Diapason praised “a series of comic numbers that are irresistible”.

Le Roi Carotte, telling of a deposed prince fighting against a tyrannical vegetable ruler, has also enjoyed a return to the stage thanks to the Offenbach Edition Keck. The recent Hannover production by Matthias Davids travels to the Vienna Volksoper in November, and the Laurent Pelly staging returns to Lyon Opera in December.

Turning from major rediscoveries to classic repertoire, Orpheus in the Underworld receives its 1000th performance in the Keck edition this season, with new stagings by Barrie Kosky at the Salzburg Festival and by Emma Rice at English National Opera.

For full information on the OEK please visit www.offenbach-edition.com.

>  Further information on Work: Fantasio (OEK critical edition)

Photo: Marianne Crebassa as Offenbach's Fantasio in Thomas Jolly's production, staged in France and Switzerland (Credit: Pierre Grosbois)

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