BBC Music Magazine

Offenbach is off the chart in this gift of a recording

Christophe­r Cook is on his feet to applaud a thrilling display of vocal and orchestral pyrotechni­cs


Offenbach Colorature

Songs and arias from Boule de neige,

Vert-vert, Orphée aux enfers, Un mari à la porte, Fantasio, Les Bavards, Mesdames de la halle, Le Roi Carotte, Les Contes d'hoffmann, Robinson Crusoë and Le voyage dans la lune

Jodie Devos (soprano), Adèle Charvet (mezzo-soprano); Munich Radio Orchestra/ Laurent Campellone Alpha Classics ALPHA 437 60:59 mins This is a marriage made in a musical heaven with the young Dutch soprano Jodie Devos reminding us just how gifted Jacques Offenbach was as a composer. And how inventive too.

Yes, he has perfect musical manners; it’s true that he wears a gift for melody on his sleeve and his sense of rhythm is that of the boulevardi­er. But his orchestras are certainly made to sing for their suppers: the faintly sinister strings at the start of the Barcarolle from Les Contes d’hoffmann, the shiver that runs through the basses when Eurydice sings the word ‘death’ in her invocation in Orphée aux enfers. Laurent Campellone gets the very best out of the Munich

Jodie Devos is a gravity-defying coloratura soprano

Radio Orchestra even in repertoire that will be unfamiliar to the most passionate Offenbachi­an.

For all that, this is Devos’s recording. She’s a gravity-defying coloratura soprano who would have thrilled the composer; and she’s certainly not the proverbial canary. It’s all characteri­sation in the couplets from Les Bavards as she skewers the chatterbox wife having first pinned down a grumpy husband. And when fireworks are called for she throws off scales and trills and runs with the greatest of ease. The three numbers from Boule de Neige, plundered from an earlier work in 1871 when Offenbach was struggling to rebuild his reputation after the ignominiou­s end of the French Second Empire, are diamond bright.

Metaphoric­ally, you’re on your feet before Devos is effortless­ly stretching up to her final top notes. PERFORMANC­E ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★

Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine website at

 ??  ?? The trill of it: Jodie Devos puts on quite a show
The trill of it: Jodie Devos puts on quite a show
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