For musicians of today, Rameau is often associated with the study of music theory.а His Traitщ de l'harmonie (1722) was incredibly influential Ч and controversial Ч in its new conception of the triad as an invertible entity.а While his critics often cited his theoretical background as making him unfit for composition, his considerable success as a composer of keyboard music and, later, opera called this accusation into question.
After a rather uninspired prologue as opening section according to Lully's five-part tradition, Rameau's ballet opera offers four different stories, each set in a different exotic locale. We get some idea of how Frenchmen conceived of the non-European world in the 1730s. The first story, "The Noble Turk," falls in line with Montesquieu's Persian Letters (1721) by suggesting that good character is more important than religious differences. This theme, alien to my own viewpoint and synonymous with the Enlightenment, led to an ideal of the Brotherhood of Man that dominated idealistic thinking for two centuries to come. The most remarkable of the four stories is the second, set in Peru at the time of the Spanish Conquest of the 1530s… By John D. Pilkey
As Rameau wrote in his treatise on harmony, “A good musician should surrender himself to all the characters he wishes to portray, and like a skillful actor, put himself in the speaker’s shoes.” Regardless of the means used to achieve this, the composer uses music and the interplay of harmony to convey feeling. This album on the Analekta label features bass-baritone Philippe Sly and soprano Hélène Guimette accompanied by musicians from Clavecin en concert under the direction of Luc Beauséjour.
'It’s possible to recreate everything about an eighteenth century opera except the audience,’ says director Robert Carsen in a documentary included with this DVD. ‘My work is for modern audiences.’ And how. Les Boréades (1763) is Rameau’s last opera, and tells the story of Alphise, a queen torn between her obligation to marry a Boréade (a descendant of the god Boreas) and her love for a poor young Apollonian priest. In this brilliant production, Carsen goes to the heart of the drama by turning the piece into a contest between the forces of tradition and innovation, with the Boréade court dressed in severe, tightly tailored 1940s Dior and the Apollonians in loose white linen… (Classic fM)
Sous forme d'un dialogue vif et parfois provocateur, Le Neveu de Rameau de Denis Diderot met en scène Lui, le neveu du compositeur, et Moi : deux facettes de Diderot, le philosophe qui oeuvre pour les valeurs universelles et intemporelles, et le matérialiste qui pratique le cynisme et le détournement des valeurs. …
“José Montalvo's production provides the spectacle with magical video back projections: characters trampoline on clouds and walk through ornamental gardens and buildings, and a veritable menagerie of animals amplifies ironic points in the plot. …the musical and dramatic performances are terrific. Christie conducts with infectious enthusiasm and the singers, especially the romantic leads, Argie (Stephanie d'Oustrac) and Atis (Top Lehtipuu), are superb. An added benefit is an engaging and helpful documentary.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2006