L'Étoile

 

Emmanuel Chabrier L’Étoile opera to libretto by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo. Directed 2014 by Laurent Pelly at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. Stars Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Lazuli), Christophe Mortagne (Le Roi Ouf I), Hélène Guilmette (La Princesse Laoula), Jérôme Varnier (Siroco), Elliot Madore (Hérisson de Porc-Épic), Julie Boulianne (Aloès), François Piolino (Tapioca), François Soons (Patacha), Harry Teeuwen (Zalzal), Jeroen van Glabbeek (Le Maître), and Richard Prada (Le Chef de la Police). Patrick Fournillier conducts the Residentie Orkest The Hague and the Chorus of the Dutch National Opera (Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins). Set design by Chantel Thomas; costume design by Laurent Pelly in collaboration with Jean-Jacques Delmotte; lighting design by Joël Adam; dialogue adaptation and dramaturgy by Agathe Mélinand. Directed for TV by François Roussillon. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

The “étoile” or “star” here is not a character in the opera but one of those shining in the firmament, which is linked by the bogus astrologer Siroco to the fates of a preposterous King and the lumpenprolateriat street peddler Lazuli (Stéphanie d’Oustrac in trousers). Confused? You will be even more so when you learn that both the King and the peddler are in love with the same Princess Laoula, etc. Tim Ashley writes at pages 90-91 of the May 2019 Gramophone that the music created for this “is marvellous in its deft wit, lightness of touch and refined yet exquisite sensuality.” Somehow all of this is a bridge between French comic opera and Surrealism, which explains the severe designs used by director Pelly. Never mind, with François Roussillon on the case, all will turn out well, and this is the only modern video available of this cult favorite.

Here’s a clip from Naxos:,