Rameau - Les Indes Galantes / Petibon, Croft, Hartelius, Agnew, Rivenq, Berg, Strehl, Christie, Les Arts Florissants, Paris Opera
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William Christie and Les Arts Florissants propel this exuberant production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's second opera to great heights. Andrei Serban's extravagant, highly baroque staging presents the four exotic love stories in a fantastic operatic spectacle.Press Reviews
"A sparkling Baroque opera...a vibrant and spectacular work on a grand scale…" (Artsworld)
"Described as an Opera-Ballet in four Acts, Les Indes Galantes was Rameau's biggest stage success in his own lifetime, and one can understand why from this spectacular production, staged at the Paris Opéra in 2004. The director, Andrei Serban, presents the piece with the sort of lavish effects and movement that would have delighted 18th-century audiences...Outstanding among the soloists are Nathan Berg as Huascar...Anna Maria Panzarella as Emilie and Paul Agnew as Valere, with Joao Fernandez memorably in drag as Bellone. The final curtain brings an exuberant encore after the credits, with Christie hilariously joining in the dance." (The Penguin Guide)
"The production, designs and choreography are an absolute joy. The singers include Paul Agnew as Valère, whose lively 'Hâtez-vous de vous embarquer' bears a startling resemblance to 'Scacciata dal suo nido' from Handel's Rodelinda of 10 years earlier. Nathan Berg rages eloquently as the villainous Huascar in 'Les Incas'." (Gramophone)
"As the plot is a pastiche of several stories, the visual style of the production seems to be a synthesis of infinite influences and ideas. Literal, representational styles are mixed with abstract elements. The effect is ephemeral and dream-like...This DVD set is remarkable in all respects. It is a must-have for opera lovers as well as Baroque music enthusiasts. " (Musicweb International)Cast
Valérie Gabail (Prologue: L'Amour)
Nicolas Rivenq (Les Sauvages: Adario )
Paul Agnew (Le Turc généreux: Valère)
Patricia Petibon (Les Sauvages: Zima)
Nicolas Cavallier (Le Turc généreux: Osman)
Jaël Azzaretti (Les Incas du Pérou: Phani)
Les Arts Florissants; William Christie
Company: Opéra national de Paris
Stage Director: Andrei Serban
Catalogue Number: OA0923D
Date of Performance: 2003
Running Time: 244 minutes
Sound: DTS Surround; LPCM Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES, IT
Label: Opus Arte"
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Top customer reviews
The DVD is excellent, clear and sharp and the menus (in French) get you around the disc pretty easily. All of the content is in French, but the subtitles cover it nicely for those who don't understand the language.
Fantastic performances and production
The Extras sections are very helpful in understanding the opera
None to speak of, except two-line subtitles are hard to read when the white type appears over an orange or yellow background.
Baroque Opera is something of an acquired taste to be sure. Often, these operas are performed in an historical perspective, with singers used as they were originally intended (counter-tenors or female singers for "castrati", etc.) While this may be accurate to the history, it is difficult for our modern tastes.
"Les Indes" as presented here takes a more modern approach. The orchestration is rich and full, the singers are strong, and there is a lot of wonderful choreography. Although the pacing is a tad slow, the music of course, sustains it, and the set designs, costuming, make-up, choreography, and performers make up for the pacing.
Anyone new to this DVD of the production (or the opera itself) would get a lot out of the Extras section, especially the bonus film called "Swinging Rameau". This explains the synopsis of the opera (which is made up of four separate love stories), the approach taken in the production, and answers all questions about why they did what they did. You see, they are focusing on the imagination here, the imagination of the composer in telling the stories in music, and the imagination of the company in bringing the composer's vision to life.
While this approach may not be to everyone's tastes, I certainly found it inventive and intriguing.
A lot of historical Baroque Opera involves people standing around on stage, either singing or waiting to sing. This can get very tedious. In this production, the choreographer keeps things moving -- both the principles and extras in the cast -- so we don't get bored. There is a lot to see at every turn. It is thought provoking.
This performance also has a lot of whimsy to it. It's good humored fun, reflective of the opera (it's not a comic opera, but it is certainly "light" compared to the more common "tragic" operas of the time) and while it is always professional, it takes a light hearted approach that is engaging and makes the opera much more accessible.
I have read some reviews that claim this performance is more like a circus than an opera. Certainly, I can see the reference, as many of the dancers are acrobatic, the make up and costuming is bold and engaging, and the props are big and bold.
In a scene about a shipwreck, they use props for the waves to great effect, in another scene there are mountains that move and shake, and there is a giant golden chicken or turkey brought in at the end -- why I have not figured out, nor why they turn it so the audience is looking at its backside... may be an "in" joke! Yet, the sets are minimal and bright, giving the whole thing a "circus" and entertaining atmosphere to be sure. But this opera is no joke or parody. It is serious and genuine to itself with a charm that is hard to describe. I think this approach makes it fun, and when was the last time a Baroque Opera was fun to watch?
The cast is superb -- no other way to describe them. The singers -- principles as well as chorus -- are clear, on pitch and on time, and they move about and use facial expressions to engage the audience. The dancers are excellent, well timed, at times absolutely thrilling to watch. The choreography is a mix of traditional baroque ballet with modern interpretative dance, and it works! This again is a modern approach to historical "set singing", and I think a good one. The camera work is also quite good, with plenty of close-ups as well ensemble shots.
Perhaps the best part of the opera is the end, with a fully orchestrated and choreographed performance of "Les Sauvages" (also the name of that story in the opera). This started life as a harpsichord piece which Ramaeau re-worked into the opera. As a harpsichord piece, it was -- and is -- one of the "top 10", and as an orchestral and choral piece, Rameau gave it even more life and excitement, as does this performance. It is the highlight of a show filled with highlights -- so much so that when they roll the credits, the conductor and cast reprise the music in a dance of joy. Very moving stuff.
In short this DVD and performance celebrates Rameau and his music.
I would recommend this opera DVD to anyone who loves good music. It has great re-play value, and you do have to watch it more than once to get all the inside jokes, the subtleties, the nuances. That makes it a good value for the money.
A+++ for this wonderful production and technically excellent DVD!
Most recent customer reviews
Seven years ago, in Cancun, a french friend recomended me to enjoy this opera, he was in a live performance...Read more
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