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Rameau: Les Boreades

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Editorial Reviews

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. Her forbidden love for Abaris is reciprocated, but seems hopeless until his divine origins are revealed, wherupon darkness is turned to light and Boreas' dingy domain is suffused with glowing colors, both literally and metaphorically. It is Rameau who emerges as the real hero of Les Boréades, in bold rhythms and daring melodic lines, threatening tempest and torture scenes and uninhibited choruses. Written in 1763, the opera was abandoned in rehearsal, for reasons still unclear. Rameau died the following year and the work disappeared from public view for more than 200 years. In this production, Director Robert Carsen and his creative team flood the stage by turns with summer blossoms, mountainous piles of autumn leaves, harsh winter snows and thunderous spring storms. The cast of 140, including soloists, chorus and dancers are attired in costumes inspired by late 1940s Dior.

Sung in French, with English, French, German and Spanish subtitles.

Alphise: Barbara Bonney
Abaris: Paul Agnew
Calisis: Toby Spence
Borilée: Stéphane Degout
Borée: Laurent Naouri
Adamas, Apollon: Nicolas Rivenq
Sémire: Anna-Maria Panzarella
Une nymphe: Jaël Azzaretti
Opéra National de Paris

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Bonney, Paul Agnew
  • Directors: Robert Carsen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 226 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,746 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Mustaros on August 4, 2009
Rameau is a genius theat deserve much more recognition and atention in musical history. His music is avantgarde not only in the baroque era but in modern times too, in certain moments it sound like Mozart or Haydn and in other times it prefigures late romanticism with his incredible use of orchestration in large orchestras with full winds and metals, percussion and an idiomatic use of the strings.
Les Boreades is the last work he composed and as on the other opera-ballets he created the story is full of masonic simbolisms. The music is outstanding and surprising, brilliantly performed by Les Arts Florissants and William Christie, one of the best french baroque experts in the world. The leading roles with Barbara Bonney and Paul Agnew are sublime. They are two singers with sensitive and pristine voices ideal for this refined and trascendental music. The actoral part is very well done too (not a constant in baroque opera world).
Another highlight is the art direction of Robert Carson who obtain a visual spectacle of high impact with a great aesthetic sense, freshness and vitality.
Les Boreades represents the perfect union of all arts, a truly masterpiece.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Linkletter on December 19, 2010
Verified Purchase
Yes, if someone just looked at the pictures, this production could seem like one of an endless stream of Eurotrash deconstructions of operas that have been given a little too much press (and indifferent recordings.) But the production itself is far from disrespectful. It attempts to portray the central conflicts in stylized ways that do not grate or mystify. Though a few of the trappings seem to border on cliche--we may now safely put away all black leather coats that are tight around the waste and flair out to the tops of the shins and their matching black gloves--the sets, costumes (mostly), production values, even the odd choreography add up to a delightful version of a true rarity. And the performances are top-notch, especially considering the tessitura of some of these roles. Occasionally, someone sounds a bit strained here or there, but no more than a few seconds at a time, and they all fit together so well as a whole that carping seems silly. Yes, the "bad" characters are highly stylized (some might say exaggerated, though on purpose) to act as foils against the "good" characters, who act in a more fluid, natural style, but the clash between the two mirrors the clash between the two groups of the opera, and it's quite often funny. The music is masterpiece level, surely one of the great French Baroque works, and all singers give their (not inconsiderable) best. The use of choruses is particularly delightful, as are the use of surprising props within the basic sets. (Watch the planting, picking of the flowers. If you are charmed or made to laugh, you'll enjoy the entire thing. If you do not or are not, then you will NOT like the whole thing.) Christie proves he is unequaled in this music and his musicians never let him down. The variety of sounds, shapes, nuances, balances, etc.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bob K on February 16, 2014
As a newbie regarding the music of Rameau, I started with the very fine harpsichord Music collection played by Belder which led me to this opera/dance performance. I think I was expecting something with powdered wigs and dances from an 18th century ballroom. Wrong!

If you play the DVD without sound and asked someone to guess the composer of the music, I would bet nobody would guess "Rameau" even if given 100 attempts. However strange at first, it works! Initially I thought the costumes and dance was created by mike meyer's SNL character, Dieter, as a post-modern parody, but the music was so good that I stuck with it. Then after awhile I realized how well the production fit the music once the preconceived notions were discarded.

The DVD visuals, performances, and sound quality are very good (in my untrained opinion). My final thought is that this is one of the best and most surprising opera DVDs that I have experienced.
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By Wabi Savvy on January 4, 2015
Verified Purchase
Perhaps I expected too much of this performance; I've loved many French baroque operas---especially those performed by William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. This production, although benefiting from the conductor's excellent musical guidance, suffers at the hands of the stage director (Robert Carsen), stage and costume designer (Michael Levine) and particularly, the participation of the dance company La La La Human Steps.

I'm sympathetic to efforts to economize in staging these baroque pieces---but to do so by purging color from the stage seems to me self-defeating and ineffective. Between them, Carsen and Levine reduced all costumes to black or white, with color only allowed to the flowers that adorn the opening set---and which are soon plucked off the by chorus. The principals are initially all in severely tailored black coats or suits---which are discarded in favor of white nighties and pajamas at the end, when love, light (and revealed pedigree) triumph over tradition and those nasty winds.

In the principal roles Barbara Bonney (Alphise) and Paul Agnew (Abaris) provide many moments of beauty, but both are severely challenged by the necessary ornamentations of the baroque vocal line, especially at the high end of the scale; the rest of the cast are similarly afflicted.

But it is the dancing, or rather the lack of it that seriously mars this production. In my book, spastic semaphore does not count as dance, and this, for the most part, is what La La La provides. On and on it goes, not reflecting or augmenting the story line---wasting page after page of Rameau's beautiful music. Truly, Terpsichore must have wept to see this travesty.
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Rameau: Les Boreades
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