Chabrier’s one act opera Une Éducation Manquée has possibly the most implausible plot in all of opera. It concerns a young aristocratic French couple on their wedding night. The whole plot turns on them having no idea what they are supposed to do. Not only are they French but they rejoice in the names of Gontran de Boismassif and Hélène de la Cerisaie. Titter ye not! Fortunately it only takes them 47 minutes to figure things out because a Wagner work on this theme would be quite intolerable. I’m not sure why anybody would bother with this piece of fluff but it made it onto DVD in a performance recorded in Compiègne in 1994. It’s probably the most amusing thing out of there since someone faked up a video of Hitler dancing in front of a train carriage. Which isn’t saying a lot.
The production by Pierre Jourdan moves things from the 18th century to the early 20th and has a kind of silent film vibe. It’s simple but effective. It’s backed up by a rather good performance by Mary Saint-Palais as Hélène, a pleasant if not terribly interesting Gontran by Franck Cassard and a rather broad performance as the even more clueless than the other two tutor Pausanias by Philippe Foureade. Michael Swierczewski conducts the Sinfonietta de Picardie. They do about as much for the music as it deserves.
Technically this is pretty poor. The 4:3 picture could easily have been shot twenty years earlier and the Dolby stereo sound is no better. The disk has hard coded English subs and no extras. Documentation is sub minimal. I really can’t imagine why anybody would buy this.