Author Topic: ~ Baroque Opera ~  (Read 46957 times)

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Harry

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~ Baroque Opera ~
« on: June 23, 2007, 08:46:08 AM »
I love all operas by Lully, Rameau, and the likes. Gardiner recorded alot of them, and I hope, that Warner bundles them together for a nice price.

Offline FideLeo

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2007, 08:54:18 AM »
I love all operas by Lully, Rameau, and the likes. Gardiner recorded alot of them, and I hope, that Warner bundles them together for a nice price.

The same description applies to Minkowski as well, who made the only (so far) and really superb recording of Marin Marais's "Alcyone".  Lully's "Phaeton" and Remeau's "Platee" are also worth a hear (all Erato/Warner).
« Last Edit: June 23, 2007, 08:58:36 AM by masolino »
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Offline Que

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2007, 10:08:41 AM »
I love all operas by Lully, Rameau, and the likes. Gardiner recorded alot of them, and I hope, that Warner bundles them together for a nice price.

The same description applies to Minkowski as well, who made the only (so far) and really superb recording of Marin Marais's "Alcyone"Lully's "Phaeton" and Rameau's "Platee" are also worth a hear (all Erato/Warner).

OK, you guys. Give a novice like me a recommendation for a superb French baroque opera!
Where shall I start? Names and numbers please! :)

Thanks! :)

Q
À chacun son goût.

Harry

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2007, 10:55:51 AM »
OK, you guys. Give a novice like me a recommendation for a superb French baroque opera!
Where shall I start? Names and numbers please! :)

Thanks! :)

Q

Q, pick any of the Rameau's on Erato, they are all fine!

Offline FideLeo

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2007, 03:42:25 PM »
OK, you guys. Give a novice like me a recommendation for a superb French baroque opera!
Where shall I start? Names and numbers please! :)

Thanks! :)

Q

For many the ULTIMATE French baroque opera (in the category of tragédies lyriques anyway)
isn't one by Lully or Rameau, but Médée composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (libretto:
Thomas Corneille). William Christie recorded it twice (for HM and Erato respectively), although
the general preference is for the later Erato version with the late Lorraine Hunt in the title role.
It is said that Charpentier instilled into the genre a rare psychological complexity that
can be utterly challenging and rewarding to attentive listeners.  The HM version, furthermore,
is cut in several places, but it has its share of supporters.  I am most fascinated by
the vocal style of haute-contres in this period, and Mark Padmore does a most convincing
job as a French baroque Heldentenor  :D

wiki article


4509-96558-2 (Erato)
HM901139-41 (Harmonia mundi)
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 11:17:15 PM by Que »
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Offline FideLeo

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2007, 04:23:52 PM »
For those interested in Gesamtkunstwerk in early modern Europe, this stage version of the Molière/Lully comédie-ballet Le bourgeois gentilhomme is a highly recommended experience.  There is more theatre than music here (about 3:1 in a four-hour production) but the performance is so oustanding in all departments (theatre, music, dance) it is no drawback at all.  The players recite in ancient French and observe all known theatrical practices of the time, including speaking at all times not to each other but facing the audience.  The stage is lit by 500 candles and houses a totally engrossing show from beginning to end.  The actors are wonderfully fun to watch even for me, from essentially a foreign (oriental) persepctive, and the included 50-minute documentary shows, in the case of Vincent Dumestre, what it takes to be a first-rate promoter of French baroque culture/music.   

« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 11:22:40 PM by Que »
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Offline Que

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2007, 09:32:20 PM »
For many the ULTIMATE French baroque opera (in the category of tragédies lyriques anyway)
isn't one by Lully or Rameau, but Médée composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (libretto:
Thomas Corneille). William Christie recorded it twice (for HM and Erato respectively), although
the general preference is for the later Erato version with the late Lorraine Hunt in the title role.
It is said that Charpentier instilled into the genre a rare psychological complexity that
can be utterly challenging and rewarding to attentive listeners.  The HM version, furthermore,
is cut in several places, but it has its share of supporters.  I am most fascinated by
the vocal style of haute-contres in this period, and Mark Padmore does a most convincing
job as a French baroque Heldentenor  :D

wiki article

4509-96558-2 (Erato)
HM901139-41 (Harmonia mundi)

Thank you Masolino for the recommendation! :)
I do hope Hunt's and Padmore's French is OK? (I must confess to some bias against anglophone singers in this respect... :-\)


I second the recommendation for Clérambault cantatas (there are other recordings) and esp. the Campra Requiem. This, along with the Gilles Requiem is one of the high points of the French Baroque sacred repertoire. The Charpentier Te Deum is another incontournable. Don't miss out on Corrette either.

Lilas, could you mention some performers/recordings for those?

Q
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 11:17:48 PM by Que »
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2007, 03:41:02 AM »
For many the ULTIMATE French baroque opera (in the category of tragédies lyriques anyway)
isn't one by Lully or Rameau, but Médée composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier

I haven't heard this work. However, no matter how good it is ignoring Rameau's operas is plain stupidity.
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2007, 05:25:49 AM »
71 dB,

Indicating a preference for Charpentier opera as a first choice in French baroque opera, does not equate to ignoring any other composer. Besides, calling others stupid because of their preferences is not a very good idea  - please be nice!  :)

But if you want to stick up for Rameau's operas - please do so! Explain which ones you like, and why you prefer them. Compare with Charpentier's operas - I could learn something! :)

Q

I think you misinterpreted me. I didn't call anyone stupid. I am really interested of Charpentier's operas as I consider him the greatest 17th century composer of France. I just doubt Charpentier's operas can have the same level of harmonic bliss and orchestral colours Rameau has.
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Offline FideLeo

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2007, 07:04:27 AM »
I think you misinterpreted me. I didn't call anyone stupid. I am really interested of Charpentier's operas as I consider him the greatest 17th century composer of France. I just doubt Charpentier's operas can have the same level of harmonic bliss and orchestral colours Rameau has.

So long as operas are more than "harmonic bliss and orchestral colours" there is reason to prefer Charpentier's late operatic masterpiece to Rameau's works.  Rameau actually wrote catchier tunes as far as I am concerned, but there is such psychological realism in Charpentier's dramatic music (which came to a full bloom in Medea) that it stuns even modern listeners at first encounter.  His characterisation for most characters is so acute it is a bit like hearing a verismo opera two centuries before its time.  I think Charpentier's profound background in writing oratorios (his teacher in Rome was Giacomo Carissimi) is what enabled him to stand out here.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2007, 07:07:07 AM by masolino »
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2007, 08:25:48 AM »
Any Rameau operas you could recommend?

Q

Well, I don't know any Rameau opera I couldn't recommend. However, "Les Boreades" and "Les Indes galantes" are among the best ones. William Christie/Opus Arte is the way to go (DVD). Increadible!

On CD Minkowski's "Dardanus" on Archiv kicks ass.
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Offline FideLeo

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2007, 08:27:14 AM »
François R. Velde has written a great expository essay on recordings of French baroque operas, and it is well worth a read:

A Survey of Recorded French Opera (1670-1770)

A great Rameau opera to begin with, in my own experience, is his first one, Hippolyte et Aricie, based on Racine's tragedy Pheadre.  As has been commented, it is a rare Rameau opera which can "stand on its own in terms of drama" and this is perhaps why it has received multiple recordings, such as one by Minkowski (Archiv) and Christie (Erato/Warner).  The Amazon reviews for both versions are interesting to read as they were written by obviously partisan but passionate enthusiasts of this music:

Christie's version
Minkowski's version

I only have the Minkowski recording, which was recorded live at a concert performance at Versailles. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2007, 08:46:32 AM by masolino »
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2007, 08:30:31 AM »
So long as operas are more than "harmonic bliss and orchestral colours" there is reason to prefer Charpentier's late operatic masterpiece to Rameau's works.  Rameau actually wrote catchier tunes as far as I am concerned, but there is such psychological realism in Charpentier's dramatic music (which came to a full bloom in Medea) that it stuns even modern listeners at first encounter.  His characterisation for most characters is so acute it is a bit like hearing a verismo opera two centuries before its time.  I think Charpentier's profound background in writing oratorios (his teacher in Rome was Giacomo Carissimi) is what enabled him to stand out here.

I'm sure Charpentier and Rameau complement each other. Charpentier is middle baroque while Rameau is late baroque.

I must get Charpentier's operas. They are just damn expensive.
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Offline The new erato

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2007, 09:09:45 AM »
I think I have a good collection af French Baroque opera, including operas by Mondonville, Monteclair, Boismortier, Charpentiers Medea + Le Malade Imaginaire, a lot of Rameau - but my favorite of them all is Lullys Acis & Galatee on Archiv (Minkowski). Plus the DVD of Rameaus Platee under Monkowski as well - with Paul Agnew in an amazing performance of the tite role. I find Lully in general very powerful despite his admittedly much simpler style than eg Rameau.

Harry

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2007, 09:35:50 AM »
A few which are on my list. By no means all.

Harry

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2007, 09:37:25 AM »
 :)

Joan

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2007, 05:13:25 PM »
Just as I logged on a few minutes, on this station www.kusc.org  they were talking about Lully and playing his music to Gentilhomme. (They've moved on to Clementi.)

I only have two Lully operas: the William Christie Atys, and this one on DVD:


Can anyone tell me how this Persee compares musically to other recordings of it? I really loved Cyril Auvity in it. He sounded very "period" to me, not that I would really know. I saw a review that criticised the women singers, although they sounded fine to me, but maybe too modern? I also saw a French review that was very critical of Colin Ainsworth, but my French is very weak so I couldn't tell if the reviewer was criticising him for his French accent or for the way he was singing French music.

Also, what do you folks think of the film Le Roi Danse? I own the soundtrack for that and it makes a very enjoyable "mix" CD. I've only seen the first half of the film; it seemed pretty over the top to me!
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 11:24:16 PM by Que »

Offline FideLeo

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2007, 04:15:54 PM »

And I adore Veronique Gens album Tragedienne of great arias, but which I suspect falls into the category of French Baroque Opera-Lite



Listening to the (French baroque) musical tragedies in their entireties can be a daunting experience, the genre itself being one of extreme formality and discursiveness (it is recitation-based).  So even many "complete" recordings are cut in places to save listeners from death from boredom.  Given a great voice and perfect diction selection albums like this one will not disappoint even if drama will inevitably get underplayed when all context is removed.  Gens's voice has matured over the years - hearing her more fresh-voiced in early recordings such as Minkowski's version of Marais Alcyone (recorded 1990) makes one realise that recordings are a bit like photographs...
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 10:47:12 PM by Que »
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Heather Harrison

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2007, 09:32:50 AM »
François R. Velde has written a great expository essay on recordings of French baroque operas, and it is well worth a read:

A Survey of Recorded French Opera (1670-1770)

A great Rameau opera to begin with, in my own experience, is his first one, Hippolyte et Aricie, based on Racine's tragedy Pheadre.  As has been commented, it is a rare Rameau opera which can "stand on its own in terms of drama" and this is perhaps why it has received multiple recordings, such as one by Minkowski (Archiv) and Christie (Erato/Warner).  The Amazon reviews for both versions are interesting to read as they were written by obviously partisan but passionate enthusiasts of this music:

Christie's version
Minkowski's version

I only have the Minkowski recording, which was recorded live at a concert performance at Versailles. 


I have been meaning to get into this thread, but I have been exploring so much of the French Baroque that it is hard to know where to start.  Since you mention this opera, I'll add my impressions of it.  I also have the Minkowski recording, and I may also get the Christie recording; this opera is so good that I wouldn't mind having two performances.  Hopefully it will come out on DVD some day.

According to the liner notes, this opera had some difficulty finding acceptance because the music was too complicated (and - horror of horrors - had some influences from the Italian style); someone at the time even used the word "Baroque" as a pejorative to describe it.  Naturally, these precise characteristics make it interesting for me.  There is great variety to the music - beautiful arias, polyphonic choral pieces, exciting storm scenes, and the melodic French-style recitative.  It would be a great introduction to Rameau's operas, and I think it is one of his best.

In addition to this, I have other operas by Rameau and Lully, religious music by Charpentier, instrumental music by Marais and Couperin, and a variety of others.  I am glad more of this music is appearing all the time; it has been neglected far too long.  And it is nice to have such expert interpreters as William Christie and Marc Minkowski; so far I have not found a single dud in all of their output.

Heather

Tancata

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Re: ~ Baroque Opera ~
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2007, 04:50:17 AM »
Please don't feel restricted to what's currently discussed - if it's French baroque: just pitch in!

Q


Well, on that note I'll jump in. I know you prefer negative reviews, Q, but that will be impossible in the case of this DVD:



It's simply a winner, as you might know from discussions of it on the previous version of the forum.

The music - Rameau's final opera/ballet "Les Paladins" is very fine. It took me a couple of listens to properly break into - it sounded a little superficial at first - but it isn't. The spectacle is divided between regular operatic sections, where Rameau demonstrates his mastery of the drama in baroque music, and dance sections which are lively but not too "frothy".

Singing is very good all 'round, especially the lithe Topi Lehtipuu as the noble and amusingly vain Atis. One possible exception is Rene Schirrer, who tends to run out of steam when going for the lowest notes of the blustery bad guy Anselme. Special mention to Francois Piolino, who has a firm and powerful (if very camp) high tenor voice, ideal for the bizarre peacock-like Manto  :).

O, the production...the production... multiple video screens and buckets full of dancers. Trampolines, lions, storks, the Metro, tit, ass, cock and balls...everything is here, and it's spectacular, never a jumble. Rather, all these diverse elements are used very cleverly to bring out the humour. Not too much reinterpretation is needed actually - the jokes are extremely modern, and the big scenes (such as the rather ambiguous seduction of Anselme by Manto) are pulled off extremely well  ;). Each of the characters has a counterpart dancer who interprets what they're feeling at the time, a concept which is used well for both humourous and dramatic effect.

The dancing is (very) modern, but goes very well - in a bizarre way - with the baroque ballet music.


A great performance all round...I'm sure others will recommend it too  :).
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 10:47:54 PM by Que »

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