This production resuscitates Gounod s original composition, largely forgotten. A triumph for Minkowski, conducting at the Opera national de Paris, it attracted more than 1 million viewers when broadcast on TV! No competition on DVD or Bluray At last, Mireille one of the most original works of the 19th century has found its rightful place at the Palais Garnier. In 1854, a young Provençal poet, Fredéric Mistral, founded a literary association with a few other people, the aim of which was to uphold and illustrate its language and culture. They called this school Félibrige, a word of mysterious origin - a blend of joy, books and freedom. In 1859, he took things one step further and gave Félibrige its battle flag and masterpiece, Miréio, a vast epic love poem. As it happened, Gounod, whose Faust was created that year, read Mireille shortly after publication and was full of enthusiasm and went to Saint-Rémy de Provence to seek out this passionate music. Due to its singularity and density, the work has had a difficult career and was revised and altered several times. In 1939, Guy Ferrant and Henri Busser, disciples of Gounod, restored the original and Mireille was finally restored from the fine midsummer's morning and its dancing to the gripping scene in the desert-like Crau region.
Platée was one of the most highly regarded of Rameau's operas during his lifetime. It even pleased critics who had expressed hostility to his musical style during the Querelle des Bouffons (an argument over the relative merits of French and Italian opera). Melchior Grimm called it a "sublime work" and even Rameau's bitter enemy Jean-Jacques Rousseau referred to it as "divine". The reason for this praise may be because these critics saw Platée, a comic opera, paving the way for the lighter form of opera buffa they favoured.
This live performance of Offenbach’s witty, tuneful, swift-moving operetta smacks of the theater: in addition to some audible movement (not bothersome), the singers play off one-another in a marvelous manner, making the whole work gleam. Marc Minkowski’s field of expertise apparently is not only French Baroque–he leads with energy, charm, and an ear for Offenbach’s pointed orchestration (the brass is heard at its shiniest here) and reinstates some music dropped after the premiere (for whatever reason), including another little aria for Paris. The dialogue has been coyly updated and it works…
The subject matter could not be different, but these two releases are extraordinarily special in their respective fields. And since both are vocal works, ergo their pairing in the interest of conserving space. But which to consider first? No disrespect is meant much less implied if we throw a chapeau in the air first for a painstaking critical edition by Jean-Christophe Keck of the libretto by Meilhac and Halévy for Jacques Offenbach’s political satire disguised as a jeu de’esprit, created for Napoleon III’s Grand Exhibition of 1867. R.D. (December 2005)
The only revival from last year, Mozart's first opera seria, Mitridate re di Ponto, was staged in the courtyard of the Residenz, on a small stage that does not allow for complicated and large scale settings…
The opera Platée by Jean Philippe Rameau is not just a comic opera but an opera in which the Gods of Olympus play a part. With his tragedies lyriques Jean Baptiste Lully had banned all comical characters from the opera, and musical comedies had become unfashionable. Thanks to works by André Campra and Jean-Joseph Mouret, however, the genre had not disappeared completely, and Rameau made his own contribution with Platée.
Handel's operas are now so thoroughly a part of modern musical life that you might think every major opera house welcomes them. But until November 2010, when it introduced an absorbing new production of Alcina, the Vienna Staatsoper resisted them, not having done a Baroque opera since Monteverdis Poppea in the 1960s. The present production boasted an all-star cast of Baroque specialists, a former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Adrian Noble, the highly-acclaimed conductor Marc Minkowski and his Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble in the pit. Adrian Noble places his Alcina into a framework which begins in the magnificent ballroom of the Devonshire-House in London Piccadilly.
Two late and baleful tragedies by Euripides focus on the ill-starred daughter of the Greek King, Agamemnon. Will he sacrifice Iphigenia in order to secure fair winds for his voyage to Troy? In Aulis, the drama rages until she is spared. Having escaped to Tauris, Iphigenia finds herself compelled to kill her own brother before, once more, the fickle gods intervene. Gluck's operatic settings are very rarely staged together, but Pierre Audi's production makes a darkly compelling case for their dramatic unity. All the lead performers here are experienced exponents of Gluck, and together they present a powerfully idiomatic experience.
Handels operas are now so thoroughly a part of modern musical life that you might think every major opera house welcomes them. But until November 2010, when it introduced an absorbing new production of Alcina, the Vienna Staatsoper resisted them, not having done a Baroque opera since Monteverdis Poppea in the 1960s. The present production boasted an all-star cast of Baroque specialists, a former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Adrian Noble, the highly-acclaimed conductor Marc Minkowski and his Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble in the pit. Adrian Noble places his Alcina into a framework which begins in the magnificent ballroom of the Devonshire-House in London Piccadilly. The legendary Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, stages a play in which she is acting together with her friends, a stage on the stage. Alcina is a great musical experience geared to the Baroque curiosity. Marc Minkowski revives Handels music in an outstanding way.