(sorry about the post title I can’t get it do a é The proper title is Véronique)
Buxton Opera House.
Even more enjoyable was Giles Havergal’s immaculately stylish, witty and touching staging of Messager’s neglected little chef-d’oeuvre, unaccountably not seen in a fully professional UK staging since the first decade of the 20th century. Messager’s score is froth, but del ectably airy froth, full of instantly hummable tunes and catchy ensembles, deftly orchestrated and brilliantly paced. The story is a time-honoured operetta yarn of an aristocrat (Hélène) disguising herself as a shop girl (“Véronique”) to test the love of the man (Florestan) she is destined to marry.
The operetta passes in a flash, thanks to Wyn Davies’s sprightly conducting; Havergal’s lightness of touch looks wonderful in Leslie Travers’s simple but evocative black-and-white sets; and the singing is pretty good, too. Mark Stone as a raffish Florestan, a French forbear of Lehar’s Count Danilo, and Helen Williams as a sparkling Agathe — a happily married lady with an eye for mustachioed men — have the operetta style to a tee. There is excellent work from Yvonne Howard as Hélène’s flirtatious aunt, Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks as a deadpan Inspector Loustot and Donald Maxwell as a bumbling Coquenard, the florist who employs “Véronique”. Only Victoria Joyce’s soubrettish leading lady is a slight disappointment, but she doesn’t spoil an enchanting night in Buxton.