La Perichole, Offenbach ‘s fantastic 1868 satire is set in colonial Peru and this production by the Garsington Opera is a fine effort. This opera is not seen in the UK very often so a big hand to the company for this attempt. Although set in Peru, the story is loosely based on the sexual shenanigans of Napoleon the third.
It is well known that he had several mistresses who were then forced into arranged marriages to save face in the Emperor’s court. But then the Viceroy meets Perichole, a streetwise but destitute singer and he gets more than he bargained for with her. She makes sure that her arranged marriage is to her own boyfriend, Piquillo.
There are some fine performances, especially by the lead characters. Piquillo is played by Robert Murray and he gives it the full works as the slightly stupid but cheeky cockney wide boy. Perichole also, played by the Irish singer, Naomi O’Connell, is superb. Geoffrey Dalton does a fine job as the Viceroy and even wears uniforms a la Napoleon the third.
This production is directed by Jeremy Sams and conducted by David Parry and there are rumours that just maybe it is the beginning of a showing of Offenbach’s operettas. This can only be a good thing if this production is anything to go by. The set is not too tastefully decorated with underwear out on washing lines and this spreads out into the auditorium as well.
Maybe it could have been a little more bawdy, perhaps, but that being said it is not meant to be too risqué. It is a good evening’s entertainment and well worth seeing if you get the chance. We can only hope there is more of the same to come from the Garsington Opera Company.