Gustave Charpentier's "musical novel" Louise takes some of its cues from Wagner—the use of leitmotif—and Massenet—the naturalistic verismo quality and spotlight on the common people. The work's libretto, inspired by symbolist poet Saint-Pol Roux, depicts the titular young seamstress, a sensitive dreamer torn between filial duty and her love for neighbor Julien, a poet. Louise ultimately finds happiness in the arms of Julien, against the wishes of her parents (especially her father), which inspires the famous aria that opens Act III: "Depuis le jour où je me suis donnée, toute fleurie semble ma destinée..." ("Since the day I gave myself, my destiny seems flower-strewn...")
In this outstanding production from the Paris Opera, the "Queen of the Bohemians" finds a worthy interpreter in Mireille Delunsch, whose theatrical instincts inform her every gesture. Jane Henschel imbues Louise's mother with a moving strength and dignity alongside José Van Dam as a tortured father who blames the sinful city of Paris for stealing his daughter away from him. An ode to the French capital, depicted as a place of mirth and celebration, whimsy and euphoria, full of colorful characters: the king of fools, the noctambulist, songwriters, peddlers, painters, philosophers—each has a place in the City of Lights!