Main content

Donald Macleod explores Jean-Philippe Rameau’s operas beginning with Hippolyte et Aricie, the work that put him on the operatic map.

Donald Macleod explores Jean-Philippe Rameau’s operas beginning with Hippolyte et Aricie, the work which put him on the operatic map.

By the time of his death in 1764, Rameau, then an octogenarian, had more than 30 stage works to his credit. It’s a remarkable achievement when you consider he produced his first opera at the age of 50. Up to that point, although details about his life are surprisingly patchy, he appears to have held a succession of posts in the provinces, as an organist, teacher and theoretician, seemingly without even a whiff of greasepaint. Then, at an age when one might assume his chosen path was settled, Rameau upped sticks, came back to Paris and conquered the stage with breathtaking speed.
Across the week Donald Macleod focusses on those heady, initial years in the French capital, building a picture of what made Rameau into a highly successful, if controversial, theatrical composer.
The transformation begins in 1733. What Rameau served up in Hippolyte et Aricie was daring, original rhythms and harmonies. The astonished spectators were both outraged and delighted. Dividing into two camps, a cultural war ensued that raged for over 20 years!

Hippolyte et Aricie (Prologue)
Entrée des habitants de la forêts
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Hippolyte et Aricie (Act 2, Sc 5)
Trio des Parques
Nathan Berg, bass Pluton
Christopher Josey, tenor, First Fate
Matthieu Lécroart, baritone, Second Fate
Bertrand Bontoux, bass, Third Fate
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Thétis
Peter Harvey, baritone
London Baroque
Ingrid Seifert, violin
Charles Medlam, bass violin
Terence Charlston, harpsichord

Concert No. 1 in C minor
Ensemble Masques
Olivier Fortin, director

Hippolyte et Aricie, (Act 3, Sc 1 to 5)
Lorraine Hunt, mezzo soprano Phèdre
Katalin Károlyi, mezzo soprano Oenone
Mark Padmore, tenor Hippolyte
Laurent Naouri, bass Thésée
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Hippolyte et Aricie (Act 5, Sc 3)
Où suis-je
Anna-Maria Panarella, soprano, Aricie
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

20 days left to listen

59 minutes

Music Played

Add music you love and enjoy it with My Tracks

Broadcast

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.