Zazà, Opera Holland Park, London, review: Anne Sophie Duprels excels in the title role

Leoncavallo’s opera which follows the life of Parisian music hall singer, Zazà, is conducted by Peter Robinson 

Richard Whitehouse
Saturday 22 July 2017 16:34 BST
Anne Sophie Duprels as Zazà
Anne Sophie Duprels as Zazà (Robert Workman)

Productions of neglected Italian operas have featured prominently at Opera Holland Park, and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Zazà was well due for revival. A relative success at its Milan premiere in 1900 and staged frequently elsewhere, it dropped out of the repertoire from the early 1920s when its heady amalgam of realism and sentimentality must have seemed distinctly outmoded.

Yet appearances can be deceptive. The composer who had struck gold with Pagliacci extracts maximum drama from the narrative of a revue singer whose litany of amorous conquest gains unforeseen perspective when encountering the wife and, especially, the daughter of her latest infatuation. After this, rejecting her lover and accepting her fate seems the only solution left.

All this is set against a backdrop of activity that Marie Lambert’s staging conveys vividly and unfussily, not least as theatrical artifice falls away so that real emotions can take precedence.

Anne Sophie Duprels excels in the title role while Joel Montero’s vibrant Milio, Richard Burkhard’s long-suffering Cascart and Aida Ippolito’s cameo as Totò are the pick of a strong supporting cast. Peter Robinson’s expert conducting is a reminder that Leoncavallo was a resourceful orchestrator as well as a dependable librettist.

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