Magazine article Gramophone

Lully: Persee (1770 Version, Arr Dauvergne. Bury & Rebel)

Magazine article Gramophone

Lully: Persee (1770 Version, Arr Dauvergne. Bury & Rebel)

Article excerpt

Lully  Persee (1770 version, arr Dauvergne. Bury & Rebel)  Mathias Vidal ten            Persee HeleneGuilmette sop          Andromede Marie Lenormand mez          Cassiope Katherine Watson sop         Merope Jean Teitgen bass            Cephee Tassis Christoyannis bar     Phinee Cyrille Dubois ten           Mercure Chantal Santon-Jeffrey sop   Wnus Marie Kalinine mez           Meduse Thomas Dolie bar             Stenone Zachary Wilder ten           Euryale 

Le Concert Spirituel / Herve Niquet Alpha (F) (2) ALPHA967 (108' * DDD) Includes synopsis, text and translation

The first production of Lully's Persee (Paris, 1682) took place the same year that Louis XIV moved into his new chateau at Versailles. Work did not start seriously on a theatre sizeable enough for ballets and operas until nearly a century later, when a redesigned rococo opera house was rushed to completion in just 23 months so that it would be ready in time for celebrating the marriage between the Dauphin (the future Louis XVI) and Marie Antoinette of Austria; its inauguration on May 16, 1770, was a revival of Persee, suitable as grand spectacle on account of its elaborate scenes and use of stage machinery. For the festive production Quinault's libretto was abridged drastically and Lully's old-fashioned score was reorchestrated by Antoine Dauvergne (Acts 1 and 4), Bernard de Bury (Act 2) and Francois Rebel (Act 3); they modernised the instrumentation (sometimes including clarinets, flutes and horns) and added new music. The cast included the high tenor Joseph Legros (Perseus) and Sophie Arnould (Andromeda)--only four years before they sang the title-roles in Gluck's Paris version of Orphee et Eutydice.

This fascinating intersection of Lulliste reception and cultural and political history comes alive in Herve Niquet's vibrant recording made in the Royal Opera at Versailles. Katherine Watson's jealous Merope, Tassis Christoyannis's villainous Phinee, Marie Kalinine's bitter Meduse, Helene Guilmette's anguished Andromede and Mathias Vidal's full-blooded Persee all sing with spirited commitment, although the contributions of most characters are marginalised by the radical 1770 abridgements that evidently favoured spectacular divertissements over the more measured detail and graceful pacing of Lully's original drama. …

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