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Rameau; Operas (DVD) 2011(NTSC (Opus Arte)
on 28 July 2011
there are not enough superlatives available, to describe the modern colourful productions of French Baroque Opera.Each of the six DVDs merit 5 stars, so we are looking at 35 stars here. William Christie an American who took French citizenship in 1989, conducts and gives commentaries in the special features. He created Les Arts Florissants, La La Steps groups of singers and dancers, who perform very modern Ballet, some of it like ritual dancing.The sets are modern and symbolic.The singing in French is enthralling accompanied often by original instrumentation. Each 2 disc set has a synopsis booklet,in English, French and German, with high definition production photographs. Subtitles are for six languages.
Rameau was an exact contemporary of Bach, spending 40 years as a church organist, and writer of philosophical works. He wrote 'street entertainment' before composing Opera, late in life, from 1750. All the humour, hypocracies, and cross-gendre of characters are brought to life in a mixture of 18th Century and very contemporary dress styles.
In some ways Rameau's last Opera 'Les Paladines' is the most modern and adventurous with a whole back drop of a split level screen, showing the actors on stage plus various other scenes simultaneously, dancers change into animals, Body Popping and Break Dancing along side traditional Ballet, and completely nude female and male dancers emulating Rodin and Athenian sculptures.
'In Convertendo' is not an opera but nevertheless, a complete joy. It is a Motet sung in Latin featuring Nicolas Rivenq, Sophie Daneman, Jeffrey Thompson, and Olga Pitarch, with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie. The DVD also features 3 chamber music pieces, and a biographical documentary of Rameau.
'Les Indies galantes' is one of the longest operas with prologue, and four acts and reprise, featuring Danielle de Niese, Nicolas Cavalier, Anna Maria Panzarella, and Paul Agnew and Nicolas Rivenq plus others, who also appear in the other productions. All the characters call for great versatility, and the format is usually story line firstly sung, and then interpreded by ballet. With the Opera de National de Paris, and inventive props of large astrolobes, orbs walking minarrets, and large opening and closing tableau pods.
Castor and Pollux the story of the twins, one mortal, one a God, who become united forever as stars in the Galaxy. Beautiful interpetation with The Nederlandse Opera and Le Talens Lyriqoes, conducted by Christophe Rousset.
Les Boreades ,very dark and formal contrasted by rainbow coloured floral scenes, and joyful dancing as Queen Alphise manages to avoid a forced marriage , and finds that the one she loves turns out to be a of noble birth, so her position is not compromised. Brilliant performances throughout.
Zoraster, perfomed in the Baroque Theatre of Drottningholm with musical director Chrsitophe Rousset, and Les Talens Lyrique. The Tragedie Lyrique style is dramatically staged, this time with costumes resembling the 18th Century,throughout, mainly in white and cream, with warm sepia and amber backdrops, and very dramatic dark thunderstorm sequences. Wonderful
On a monetery level, the whole set may seem expensive, but it is worth every penny , incomparable value.