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Lully: Armide / Christie - Carsen - Les Arts Florissants (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées 2008) [Blu-ray]
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For any enthusiast of Baroque music, the production of Lully's Armide at the Theatre des Champs Elysées, directed by William Christie and staged by Robert Carsen, was an exceptional event. The last and most successful collaboration between Lully and his librettist Quinault, Armide is the ideal of the genre as desired by Louis XIV: a tragic opera that achieves the perfect fusion of music, song and dance. William Christie leads the orchestra and chorus of Les Arts Florissants and a dazzling cast. Stephanie D Oustrac is the imperious sorceress Armida, overcome by the violence of a forbidden passion. The bewitching choreography is by Jean-Claude Gallotta. Almost 25 years ago William Christie and Les Arts Florissants gave a performance of Lully's Atys in what was a watershed for the Early Music movement. We have Christie and his groundbreaking colleagues to thank for the fact that in 2008, Robert Carsen's new production of Armide at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées - conducted by Christie - was one of the hottest tickets in town. Atys has recently been revived at the Opéra Comique using singers from Christie's 'Jardin des Voix'
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Top Customer Reviews
Thereafter, there is less cleverness and a mostly straightforward operatic staging, but like Carsen and Christie's work together on Rameau's Les Boréades, it's a highly stylised, fictional period setting, with elegant courtly uniformity of design and colour schemes to suggest location and mood. It's utterly beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, making striking use of light and colour, but working also in coordination with the tone, mood and rhythm of the music score. Christie, an American, is a recognised national treasure in France for the work he has done breathing life into the dusty, stuffy academicism of old-fashioned French Baroque opera, works his usual wonders here with Lully.Read more ›
Armide, in love with her enemy Renaud is all too aware that she can only get him to love her in return by employing her magical powers. She calls up Hatred and his minions, all dressed like Armide, as if to illustrate her inner conflict. A clever idea, but it takes some time to overcome one's immediate reaction, watching the males in red dresses and lipstick. The scene where two knights save each other from female temptations, visualized by a beautiful nude dancer, is something that some may find unnecessary explicit. However, there are many scenes of great beauty such as the sleep scene, where Renaud lies on a bed of roses. Hypnotic, dreamy and strikingly beautiful. I also enjoyed the ballet sequences and the elegant uniformity of design and color, but the ballets could do more to archive scenic variety. We know a lot about the choreography of Baroque opera-ballets to-day.
Stéphanie d'Oustrac gives a gripping performance that brings all of Armide's emotional tumult to the fore, and Paul Agnew's stylish singing as Renaud is equally outstanding. William Christie conducts with his customary sure sense of style. The superbly lit production shows tremendous detail in its blu-ray transfer.
It's however worse when it comes to the staging. It's just plain silly. There are a few scenes that capture your attention, but the general feeling that you're feeling out of place with the music and the drama. It is however far from as bad as to deduct a star because the overall impression is that of a unique and excellent production.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lully wrote music and operas to represent the glory and power of France and its King. His music is elegant, regal, grandiose, and full of beauty. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Kitty
An amazing recording from the Theatre des Champs-Elyses partly filmed at Versailles. Sumptuous singing from Stephanie d'Oustrac who looks amazingly sexy throughout. Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2014 by teapotowner