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Rameau: Hippolyte Et Aricie  [Region Free]
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In Glyndebourne's first-ever staging of an opera by Rameau, director Jonathan Kent presents a production which, in his own words, ‘strives to appeal to every sense and show audiences how engrossing and musically ravishing French Baroque opera can be’. Rameau's inventive take on Racine's great tragedy Phèdre is brought to life by Paul Brown's colourful and elegant designs and Ashley Page's playful choreography. Ed Lyon and Christiane Karg give captivating performances as the titular young lovers, while Sarah Connolly, making a welcome return to Glyndebourne, ‘invests Phaedra with both grandeur and a desperately human vulnerability’ (The Independent). Leading exponent of early music William Christie ‘sets an exhilarating pace, galvanising the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to playing of tremendous panache’ (The DailyTelegraph). Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true Surround Sound.
"Few nights at the opera will be as rewarding as this one." (The Arts Desk)
"Rameau's music is one reason to hasten to East Sussex. Another is Jonathan Kent's inventive staging." (The Times)
"Sarah Connolly combines a luscious voice and volcanic stage presence as Phaedra, and her climactic outpouring of despair in Act 4 is scalp-prickling." (Bloomberg.com)
"William Christie ... as usual sets an exhilarating pace, galvanising the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to playing of tremendous panache. " (The Daily Telegraph ★★★)
"With William Christie conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment ... the music couldn't be better presented; Christie's ability to conjure up ceremonial grandeur, tender intimacy and rhythmic variety may be sleight of hand from the greatest Rameau interpreter of our time, but it's totally compelling. So too is much of the cast, especially Ed Lyon's Hippolytus, Christiane Karg's Aricia, and Stéphane Degout's Theseus; as Phaedra, Sarah Connolly plays the stepmother from hell to the manner born." (The Guardian ★★★★)
"Katherine Watson's imperious Diana, Ed Lyon's coltish Hippolytus, and Francois Lis's dark-toned Pluto are all spot-on, while Emmanuelle de Negri and Mathias Vidal purvey a ravishing sweetness of sound. Sarah Connolly invests Phaedra with both grandeur and a desperately human vulnerability; Stephane Degout's Theseus sends up prayers to Neptune in singing of transcendent beauty. The diction and phrasing is perfectly idiomatic; the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is on top form." (The Independent ★★★)
CastEd Lyon (Hippolytus)Christiane Karg (Aricia)Sarah Connolly (Phaedre)Stéphane Degout (Theseus)Katherine Watson (Diana)François Lis (Pluto/Jupiter/Neptune)Julie Pasturaud (Œnone)Samuel Boden (Mercury)
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; The Glyndebourne Chorus; William ChristieStage Director: Jonathan KentTelevision Director: François RoussillonDesigner: Paul BrownChoreographer: Ashley Page
Catalogue Number: OABD7150DDate of Performance: 2013Running Time: 187 minutesSound: 24 bit LPCM / 5.1 DTS Master Audio HDAspect Ratio: 16:9Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KOLabel: Opus Arte
Under William Christie, the Orchestra of Enlightenment delivers musky strings beguiling recorders, meaty bassoons and an earthy musette. The choral singing is excellent. Performance **** Picture & Sound ***** --BBC Music Magazine, Oct'14
Ed Lyon and Christine Karg make touching lovers, Stephane Degout is convincingly anguished as Theseus, and Sarah Connolly formidably regal as well as despairing. If you enjoyed (William Christie's)and Kent's The Fairy Queen, you will enjoy this. --Gramophone, Oct'14
This is a triumph: a hugely enjoyable production, with extremes of humour and pathos. --IRR,Jan'15
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Most of the female costumes are low cut, long sleeved, narrow waisted, puffed out and long skirted with the hair worn up and away from face and shoulders, all of which is inexplicably attractive. Some of the female dancers appear clad in what seem to be long knickers or bloomers reaching to just below the knee and over which they wear a lattice framework as if they had forgotten to put on their flared-out skirts. It's all fascinating to watch. Most of the male singers and dancers wear knee breeches under flared kilts and have hairstyles very similar to the female ones. There are lots of arrows carried in quivers on the backs of bow bearing men and women and we have the de rigueur classical conflict between Cupid and Diana.(Diane) Gods and goddesses such as Diana and Neptune always appear comfortably seated from above in the clouds. It's all exceptionally well done.
One of the special delights of this production is Jael Azzaretti in the role of L'Amour (Cupid). who receives an especially warm ovation for her verging on b canto performance towards the end of the work. But everyone and everything about this great production is inspiringly good including Le Concert d'Astree Orchestre et Choeur directed by Emmanuelle Haim. It's so encouraging to see a female conductor. I'm so pleased I bought this and I would be very surprised if there are any opera lovers who wouldn't enjoy it as much as I do.
The production does its best to replicate a sense of the original spectacle using period style props, backdrops and stage effects. The sets, forest glades, pillared halls, curved stone vaults etc., are all painted canvases sliding in and out and up and down. Acting throughout is stylized and all are at ease with the theatrical gestures of the time. The costumes are exquisitely crafted and there are powdered wigs and exaggerated make-up. Batteries of candles for soft, warm lighting add to the attempt to make a Baroque opera actually look Baroque onstage.
True period authenticity is fascinating, but the main problem with these reconstitutions, is that the heavy make-up, elaborate costumes and stiff poses are passion-killers and none of it really does anything for a dramatic style, that already feels dated. The attempt to replicate a candlelit environment means that fantastic costumes full of greens, reds, and golds end up looking dusty, faded and murky. Still, it's great fun to watch the DVD, just like being at the court of Louis XIV.
The tenor Topi Lehtipuu sounds a little edgy as Hippolyte, but the soprano Anne-Catherine Gillet is a lovely Aricie who sings with generous tone. However, their roles never really come to life. The splendid mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly makes a sympathetic character of Paèdra, erupting in jealous rage and touching in bitter regret. The baritone Stéphane Degout gives a masterful, dignified performance as Tésée. Emmanuelle Haïm, who understand the Baroque and its aesthetic so well, and the Orchestra and Chorus of Concert d'Astrée do justice to Rameau's score.
In the light of today's large screens it is a pity that we have to make do with such low-definition image quality. However, this visually sumptuous production is one of the most delightful productions I have seen and heard for a long time and it is a 'must have' for Baroque fans. Others have been warned.