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Offenbach's King Carrot, which enjoyed a first Parisian run of 195 performances in 1872, has been rediscovered in a new Lyon Opera staging using the Offenbach Edition Keck.

The latest major revival thanks to the Offenbach Edition Keck is an uproarious staging of Le Roi Carotte (King Carrot) at Lyon Opera in December. The production by Laurent Pelly uses the new critical edition by Jean-Christophe Keck including the first ever full score of the work, recreating Offenbach's three act version of 1872 in which he reduced the original extravagant six hour spectacle to three and a half hours.

Offenbach and his librettist Victorie Sardou (the author of Tosca) transformed a story by ETA Hoffmann into a grand satirical spectacle around the time of the Franco-Prussian war. Following France’s defeat King Carrot succeeded in bringing laughter back to Paris to lift spirits: this tale of a vegetable usurper overthrowing the crown prince enjoyed an extraordinary run of 195 performances. The expense of staging the original blockbuster led Offenbach to create a shorter 'opéra-bouffe-féerie' version, which forms the basis of the Lyon revival with text adapted by Agathe Mélinand.

The readily performable new OEK edition of Roi Carotte, like those of the Romantic operas Les Fées du Rhin and Fantasio, helps widen appreciation of Offenbach as a 19th century master. As the Deutsche Bühne commented, "Roi Carotte is a clear step in the direction of Tales of Hoffmann… a valuable Offenbach work has been reclaimed for the theatre in Lyon. It was greeted by thunderous applause and huge enthusiasm."

"A masterpiece – the word is no exaggeration – as Offenbach’s imagination here reaches for the summit, constantly renewing itself through eleven tableaux to suit the numerous choruses and ensembles swept up in the epic spirit, from the apocalyptic eruption of Vesuvius, a hilarious ode to the railway, or a shiny parade of ants, to the scene at the barricades that may recall the horrors of the Commune… The production is a celebration always supported by humour, perfectly timed, leading up to the appearance of a giant food mill. You can imagine how King Carrot ends up – as purée – what a triumph."

>  Further information on Work: Le Roi Carotte (OEK critical edition)

Le Roi Carotte at Lyon Opera (Photo: Stofleth)

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