Rameau's last opera, unperformed in his lifetime, was revived triumphantly
at the Proms by Simon Rattle (see review
in S&H, August 1999). This world premiere recording dates back to
a concert performance by John Eliot Gardiner in 1975 and subsequent staging
at the Aix Festival, not until 1982. It sounds very good and the cast, headed
by Jennifer Smith and Philip Langridge is fully comparable with Simon Rattle's.
The opera is complex and warrants the extensive notes and essays provided.
But there is a fly in this ointment. My dismay at the lack of any libretto,
or translation of the text, fell into perspective when I came across John
Eliot Gardiner's own apology, his undisguised frustration, amounting to near
fury, that the Still Editions company had forbidden translation and had demanded
unaffordable royalties for even reproducing the French text! I have had previous
salutary experience of a publishing firm shooting themselves in the foot
in like manner, which I may have a future opportunity to share with readers.
Boréades has such pleasure in store that I recommend buyers
of the CD to take the trouble to seek from the BBC a copy of the Prom programme,
which has the complete text and translation. Without it to hand I doubt whether
I would have played through the whole long opera, even though the sequence
of dances and inventive orchestration ensures that boredom is kept well away
by the music itself. The performance is vivid and alive throughout, and there
are several stage photos of the Aix production. The recording is a bit dry
but perfectly satisfactory.
A difficult one to award stars!
I settle for
Peter Grahame Woolf