Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Rameau - Les Boreades / Bonney Agnew Spence Naouri Panzarella Degout Rivenq Christie Les Arts Florissants Paris Opera|
Actors: Barbara Bonney, Anna Maria Panzarella, JaŽl Azzaretti, Paul Agnew, Toby Spence
Director: Thomas Grimm
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
This mythical tale of a young queen, Alphise, determined to abdicate rather than contemplate an enforced marriage to a descendant of Boreas, is nothing less than highly-charged. Director Robert Carsen and his creative team... more »
Rameau with roulades
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Musically crisp, tight and exciting, with extravagant and gorgeous singing. The DVD shows what is show-worthy in Paris these days: minimalist décor, but charming stage gimmicks (e.g., autumn leaves spun out of whirling, upside-down umbrellas); strong dancing (some en pointe) from both the forces of darkness (winds in trenchcoats) and of light (zephyrs in light cotton underwear). The footwork is fantastic and the movement (often against Rameau's metre) sets the music in relief, true to the commentary interviews; some will find the arm and finger movement repetitive and excessive, as this is a work with as much dancing as singing. Amazing that Boréades was written one year after Gluck's Orfeo."
Brilliant in Every Way
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 06/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rameau never saw Les Boreades staged. He was 80 years old when he wrote it. The planned production at Louis XV's theater in Choisy in 1763 was mysteriously abandoned, perhaps due to court intrigue, and the opera was forgotten until John Eliot Gardiner conducted a concert version of it in London in 1974. This DVD captures the first-ever full performance, by the Opera National de Paris in 2003, in such spectacular fashion that the ghost of Jean-Philippe Rameau might think it was worth waiting for. Every singer is superb, every dancer is lithe and beautiful to behold, every note from Bill Christie's period orchestra is perfect, and the staging is a wonder of creativity. Why anyone wouldn't drool over this production is inexplicable to me.
French Baroque opera was so different from Italian - including the works of that Italo-Saxon Handel - that it constitutes a separate genre. The first difference you'll notice is that it's half ballet, and thus it contains extended movements of purely instrumental music. But the singing is different also; most of it is orchestrally supported recitativo, rather than the Italian succession of dry recitativo and set-piece da capo arias. This though-composed singing, with almost no repetition of text, makes French opera oddly more similar to Puccini than to Handel, though the similarity stops far short of sounding alike. This is a long opera - 218 minutes - and it will take a neophyte a couple of scenes to adjust to the musical style. Stay with it! The musical steam builds up until the fourth and fifth acts, which integrate the orchestra with the cast of 140 singers and dancers!
The story concerns the Queen of the Boreades, who is required by the God of the North Wind to marry one of two suitors of His royal stock. The Queen, sung gorgeously by Barbara Bonney, is in love with a fellow of no known rank named Abaris, sung gloriously by tenor Paul Agnew. The usual set-backs are sung and danced until the denouement, when Apollo arives from above to acknowledge His paternity of Abaris. There are hints in the libretto of "revolutionary" sympathies and Masonic rites, which might have contributed to the suppression of the opera in the tense climate of the faltering ancien regime.
The staging is unabashedly modern, and superbly colorful, literally florid, despite the fact that the Boreades and their Queen are all dressed in long black coats. Abaris and his folk are in white pajamas and assorted underwear. That may not sound picturesque, but in the flesh it's powerfully evocative, as well as allowing the dancers' superb physiques to shimmer. The dance is also unabashedly modern, a blend of classical ballet legs and frenetic hip-hop arms. I've seen enough recreations of French court dance of the 18th Century to declare that it doesn't have the eternal appeal of the original music. Frankly, historically informed music, with original instruments and authentic vocal styles, succeeds more enjoyably in combo with innovative, even bizarre stagings such as the Paris Opera offers. There are several French Baroque operas on DVD now, staged creatively, most of them conducted by William Christie: Les Paladins by Rameau, Les Indes Galantes also by Rameau, Platee by Lully, all delightful as music and as drama. To my ears, Les Boreades is the most potent musical statement, the greatest of Rameau's many long-neglected masterpieces. Paris! Give us more!"
J. Smith | Washington, DC area | 11/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A small group of friends meet regularly at my house to view opera DVDs. We all enjoyed this one very much. The staging worked beautifully, with the flowers, leaves and snow. The voices were quite good, and the baroque music wonderful. None of us was familiar with the music of Rameau, but will look forward to hearing more. Prospective viewers should be aware that there is as much, if not more, dance as singing. The dancing, like the staging, is very modern -- our one complaint was that the female dancers all looked anorexic! All in all, a first rate program. We heartily recommend it."
Dr. John W. Rippon | Florida | 03/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The voices are all great; Bonney especialy. It takes some getting use too, as this is early and largely unfamiliar opera form, but I found intense drama and developement in the music and the story line gripping. The production is top rate with clever use of snow (it's the north wind afterall) umbrellas and choreographed movement. The latter reflects the French taste for ballet. Yes, it takes getting used to, but is worth the effort."