La Belle Hélène in London


Flott has made her return to English National Opera playing the title role in Offenbach's "La belle Hélène". This production by Laurent Pelly has been a huge success at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2000. Now the hilarious operetta has been given a new English translation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey and can be enjoyed at the London Coliseum.

After all, Laurent Pelly’s staging (...) was the toast of Paris when it played at the Châtelet. And it has come to London not just with Pelly’s own costume designs — a surreal melange of togas and tat, evoking Club 18-30 as much as Ancient Sparta — but with the Châtelet’s leading-lady as well: the delectable Dame Felicity Lott (...) playing the flighty Helen with a wonderfully light touch: more joyously fallible than rampantly flirty. And her singing, even in a role that lies low for her, is a wake-up call to almost everyone else at ENO: elegant and silvery in tone, steeped in the idiom, and with every word crystal-clear.” (The Times)

"As in Paris, Felicity Lott is the delectable Helen, making her first visit back to ENO since 1988. (...) who else could play up the comedy like this and still present a picture of such refined elegance?" (Financial Times)

The cast helps, of course. Felicity Lott, one could be forgiven for thinking, has perhaps reached the age when she might not want to make a fool of herself. (She is a Dame, after all...) Wrong: not only does she still look and sound gorgeous, she is a consummate actress in this type of role, and from her overture appearance brushing her teeth to her obvious appreciation of Paris' charms, she steals the show (well, apart from the sheep).” (

"Lott, in fact, is the deftest speaker on stage, displaying her well-known gift for comedy in an impersonation of the Spartan Queen that owes much to her celebrated portrayal of Christine Storch in Richard Strauss’s autobiographical opera, Intermezzo (both women are bored wives of a certain age, who look for a bit of excitement in the form of lusty young toyboys).(...) In Paris, singing in French, Lott is regarded as something of an exotic “Anglaise”, but over here her Helen comes across as very English. She’s as musical and stylish as ever, though." (The Sunday Times)