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A Night at the Opera

Donald Macleod’s survey of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s stage works comes to the dance and singing extravaganza, Les fetes d’Hebe.

Donald Macleod’s survey of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s stage works comes to the dance and singing extravaganza, Les fetes d’Hebe.

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.

When Rameau was writing for the stage, the abilities of the colourful company of singers, dancers and musicians employed by the Paris Opera shaped the music he provided.

Les fêtes d’Hébé, (Prologue)
Accourez, riante jeunesse
Sophie Daneman, soprano, Hébé
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Les fêtes d’Hébé (La danse, Suite)
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Les fêtes d’Hébé, (opera-ballet)
Deuxième Entrée: La Musique (Sc 1 to 5)
Sarah Connolly, mezzo soprano, Iphise
Paul Agnew, tenor, Lycurgue
Thierry Félix, bass, Tirtée
Maryseult Wieczorek, mezzo soprano, Une Lacédémonienne
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, tenor, l’Oracle
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Pièces de clavessin
Le Rappel des Oiseaux
Les soupirs
Les cyclops
Olivier Baumont, harpsichord

Les fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour (Sc 3 to 5)
Carolyn Sampson, soprano Memphis
Alain Buet, bass, le Grand-Prêtre
Tassis Christoyannis, bass, Canope
Le Concert Spirituel
Hervé Niquet, director

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