Main content

A character survey

Donald Macleod’s survey of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s operas comes to Castor et Pollux, one of the most original of his stage creations.

Donald Macleod’s survey of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s operas comes to Castor et Pollux, one of the most original of his stage creations.

At his death in 1764, Rameau, by 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.

Rameau had a singular ability to connect music with human emotion. Today Donald considers the composer’s rather contrary character and how he brought his operatic characters to life on stage.

Castor et Pollux (Act 1)
Que tout gémisse
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Castor et Pollux (Act 1)
Tristes apprêts, pales flambeaux
Agnès Mellon, soprano, Télaïre
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Castor et Pollux (Act 3, Scenes 4 & 5)
Sortez d’esclavage ….Brisons tous nos fers
Howard Crook, tenor, Pollux
Agnès Mellon, soprano, Télaïre
Véronique Gens, soprano, Phébé
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Quatrieme concert (excerpt)
La pantomime
La Rameau
Christopher Rousset, harpsichord
Ryo Terakado, violin
Kaori Uemura, viola da gamba

Hippolyte et Aricie (Act 1 excerpt)
Mark Padmore, tenor, Hippolyte
Anna Maria Panzarella, soprano, Aricie
Patricia Petibon, soprano, Une Prêtresse
Mireille Delunsch, soprano Une Grande Prêtresse
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Castor et Pollux (Act 5)
Castor revoit le jour
Véronique Gens, soprano Phébé
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Castor et Pollux (Act 5)
Chaconne
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

22 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.