This disc is just a treasure. The music of Charpentier is delicious, as well as the voices of Agnes Mellon and Dominique Visse, both of them showing how "big" small voices can be. I specially like the androgynous timbre of Visse, combining effectively the chest and falsetto voice, but always with an admirable smartness and delicacy. The libretto (although not included in the disc) is very beautiful: Acteon is transformed into a deer after seeing the nymphs of Diana taking a bath without clothes, and eaten by dogs...The last chorus is very moving. One of the best french baroque recordings ever made.
Actéon is a Pastorale that follows the pattern of tragédie en musique established by Lully and was probably composed by Charpentier in 1684.
This is an enjoyable - though brief - little piece lasting only 40mins. Written for a small ensemble and only a few voices, the performance here by the redoubtable Les Arts Florissants uses a rather larger grouping, but retains the intimate quality of the work. The Pastorale is in six scenes and notes in French/English/German are provided to guide the listener through the proceedings; there are no actual texts provided, but it is easy to follow. The disc concludes with "Intermède pour Le Mariage forcé ou La Comtesse d`Escarbagnas", a humorous and entertaining piece for three male voices (counter-tenor, tenor and baritone) performed with a good deal of Gallic swagger; this is the kind of thing that makes discovering the French Baroque so rewarding and it quickly dispels the melancholy of the final scene of Actéon.
An excellent CD available on the Harmonia Mundi budget label, running to just over 46 mins. Featuring some fine singing and music-making - which I believe was a Gramophone award winner in 19882-3.
This is a short, seventeenth century French opera (and sung in French, just in case that isn't clear). It is based on the Ancient Greek mythological story as retold by Ovid of the hunter Actaeon's demise after he stumbles on the goddess Diana at her toilette in the forest. As you might expect from Les Arts Florissants and William Christie, the singing and music are superb and well-paced. The CD is nicely presented in a cardboard case with helpful notes including a commentary in English. Recorded in 1982, this has stood the test of time. If you're unsure about Charpentier or seventeenth century French opera this is a well-priced and classy place to start.
You can look at the excerpt from Le Mariage Forcé tagged on at the end as a bonus or an unnecessary filler. Take your pick, but it wasn't for me.