Leave it to the French to pull off Rossini’s Le Comte Ory in a production exuding class, panache, and style.

The ingredients that went into this perfection of a concoction are many. Start with Louis Langrée in the pit, helming the peerless Orchestre des Champs Elysées, and the splendid choral ensemble Les elements.

On the basis of this production Louis Langrée should be extended invitations from every company considering a staging or recording of this or any other Rossini opera. He reveals himself here for once and for all as a great opera conductor.

Then there is the cast, with French tenor Phillippe Talbot in the title role. From the moment he comes on stage and sails into the stratospheric aria Que les destins… we are in the good company of a bel canto singer with an endless top voice and all the markings of a great artist. Oh and he can act.

The principals are each and every one terrific singing actors.

The Countess, Julie Fuchs is a visual and vocal delight in a great role.

Gaëlle Arquez in the pants role of Ysolier is the ideal Rossinian mezzo: agile, bright-voiced, and very pretty.

Bass Patrick Bolleire is a hilarious Gouverneur and noble of voice.

Baritone Jean-Sebastien Boud is vocally and dramatically a perfect Rimbaud.

The production sports a great look, ranging from Eric Ruf’s classy wood-paneled unit set, to Christian Lacroix’s richly textured costumes, and Stephanie Daniel’s subtle lighting, all of which situate the action in the Paris of Rossini’s time.

Bringing it all together, stage director Denis Podalydes uses a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t with opera singers creating a show that never lags in comic drive, and neither lapses into hockey humor nor backs off from the randy poly-sexual overtones of the story.

The video and the sound are flawless, quite remarkable for a live recording.

Kudos to C Major!

Rafael de Acha