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Molière à l’opéra
Luanda Siqueira (soprano), Jean-François Lombard (tenor), Jérôme Billy (tenor), Virgile Ancely (bass)
Les Paladins (Patrick Oliva, Myriam Mahnane (violins), Benoit Bursztejn, Martha Moore (Violas), Nicolas Crnjanski (bass de violon), Charles-Édouard Fantin (theorbo; Baroque guitar))/Jérôme Correas (harpsichord)
rec. Opéra de Reims, France, December 2015
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
GLOSSA GCD923509 [72:30]

Giovanni Battista Lulli was born in Florence, Tuscany to a family of millers. He had some basic musical training, himself stating that a Franciscan friar gave him his first lessons and taught him to play the guitar. When he was fourteen he followed a French nobleman to Paris, where he for several years served as a “chamber boy” to a Mademoiselle de Montpensier. It is supposed that he widened his musical skills during those years and also became a skilled dancer. In 1853 he became friends with the young Louis XIV and before long was made royal composer for instrumental music. He was soon indispensable, writing ballets and other music for the royal festivities, and when he married in 1662 he declared himself to be Jean-Baptiste Lully. By then he had already begun collaborating with the greatest playwright and actor of the time, the ten-year-older Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known under his stage name Molière. During the 1660s they developed a new genre, the 'comédie-ballet' which combined theatre, comedy, incidental music and ballet. It became enormously popular and this disc contains excerpts from several of those comédie-ballets. The title of the disc, Molière à l’opéra, is deceptive, since Molière didn’t live long enough to see a proper opera. Lully’s Cadmus et Hermione, the first tragédie lyrique, was premiered on 27 April 1673; Molière died a little more than two months earlier during a performance of his last play, Le Malade imaginaire. That said, the collaboration between the two had cleared the way for the opera concept and Lully only had to remove the spoken dialogue from the model they had created.

The best known of the works here presented is no doubt Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, which was first seen on 14 October 1670. In the early twentieth century it was resurrected in Germany, adapted by Hugo von Hofmannsthal with music by Richard Strauss. It was then presented in harness with the newly written opera Ariadne auf Naxos, but the combination was problematic. The opera has a life of its own and the play has often been performed with Strauss’s music, choreographed by George Balanchine. Strauss based part of his incidental score on Lully’s own music but it is good to have the real thing – and in such committed performances.

A lot of the music is rather rumbustious and the singing to a great extent informal, parlé-chanté, in order to apply a more popular approach to the genre. Conductor Jérôme Correas argues in his foreword: “During the course of this recording I was often reminded of the anecdote about the young Louis XIV during a meal aiming bread pellets and salad in the direction of ladies’ hair creations: such a court as then in existence could not be as serious and unbending as it has been claimed, and our interpretation needed to take account of this dimension.” The refinement and nobility we often connect with the French baroque is largely abandoned, the Ballet des Nations from Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (tr. 17) is noisy and unsophisticated – and great fun. All four soloists are in action and we just feel how they enjoy themselves. The ‘other’ composer, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, whom Molière turned to when Lully wasn’t available – they had their schisms – also produced riveting music. The Trio Grotesque from Le Mariage force. Inspired, maybe, by Clément Janequin’s famous Le Chant des Oiseaux the singers in a hilarious number imitate dogs and cats and even donkeys. Play that track (tr. 10) to your friends who believe baroque music is haughty and stiff and they will be converted.

There is a lot of charming music here that has stood the test of time admirably for 350 years, and anyone who wants to be transported back to the days of Louis XIV will be richly awarded with the contents of this disc. Elizabeth Giuliani’s liner-notes offers valuable background information.

Göran Forsling


Track Listing
Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632 – 1687)
Pastorale comique (1667):
1. Entrée des Magiciens: Déesse des appas (JFL, JB, VA)… O toi, qui peux rendre agréable (VA) [2:47]
2. Chaconne des Magiciens: Ah, qu’il est beau ... Qu’il est joli (JFL, JB, VA) [2:46]
La Princesse d’Élide (1664):
3. Quand l’amour à nos yeux (LS) [4:39]
Monsieur de Pourceaugnac (1669):
4. Entrée des Procureurs et des Sergents: La polygamie est un cas pendable (JB, VA) [2:23]
5. Entrée des Matassins: Piglialo sù (JB, VA) [2:12]
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670):
6. Sé que me muero de amor (JFL) [4:26]
7. Ay qué locura (VA) [1:49] Premier Air des Espagnols
Les Amants magnifiques (1670):
8. Quand je plaisais à tes yeux (LS, JB) [5:41]
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643 – 1704)
Le Sicilien (1667):
9. Ouverture [1:40]
Le Mariage force (1664):
10. La, la,la, bonjour (JFL, JB, VA) [7:40]
Jean-Baptiste LULLY
Psyché (1671):
11. Deh, piangete al pinto mio (LS, JFL, VA) [7:51]
12. Entrée de la suite d’Apollon: Le dieu qui nous engage (JFL) [2:58]
Les Amants magnifiques (1670):
13. Menuet [0:43]
14. Vous chantez sous ces feuillages (VA, JFL, JB) [4:52]
15. Ah! Que sur notre Coeur (LS, VA) [5:11]
16. Dormez, beaux yeux (JFL, JB, VA) [3:52]
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670):
17. Ballet des Nations: À moi, Monsieur (LS, JFL, JB, VA) [8:45]
18. Quels spectacles charmants (LS, JFL, JB, VA) [1:47]

 

 




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