Platée (with French libretto)
Rameau, Jean Phillip
Jean-Phillipe Rameau – Platée ou Junon jalouse: Prologue and Ballet Bouffon
(Rameau: 25 September, 1683 (Dijon, France) – 12 September 1764 (Paris, France)
in three acts, RCT 53
2nd version – revised as a comédie lyrique for the Paris Opéra (1749-59)
First performance: Grande Écurie, Versailles, 31 March 1745
First publication (revised version):
Paris: Chez l’Auteur, la Veuve Boivin, M. le Clair, 1749
The Composer and his Legacy
Jean-Philippe Rameau was already well-respected as a theorist and writer when his first opera tragique, Hippolyte et Aricie, debuted on the stage of the Académie Royale de Musique in 1733. He was fifty. Over the next thirty years, he became the leading French composer of the eighteenth century, receiving one of the biggest commissions of his career with the comic opéra-ballet Platée (1745, 1749-59).
Defying the expectations of the conservative press, Rameau honored and transcended the operatic models of his predecessor Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687). Lully was renowned for innovations he brought to French dramatic music including the French overture, new theatrical dances, and the novel use (in the French context) of expressive dissonance at passionate moments. Lully increased the importance of dance in his large-scale works, and Rameau integrated dance music with character and plot development.
Rameau’s music was revered by Berlioz and D’Indy, and Nadia Boulanger taught him to her pupils in Paris. His operas are performed frequently in France, and he has been championed by Les Arts Florissants and Les Musiciens du Louvre. Harpsichordist Lina Lalandi promoted Rameau’s music and French baroque opera in the UK (1970s-1980s), but her lavish and historically accurate productions – with original instruments, elaborate costumes, extravagantly plumed headdresses and ornate sets – put forward only one view of how Rameau might be performed. Rameau wrote for baroque flutes and violinists with shorter, lighter bows, which both give a special character to his work.
Mark Morris made a modern restaging of Platée (often accompanied by period orchestras such as Philharmonia Baroque) that toured internationally since 1997. Santa Fe Opera featured the opera in an adaptation of Laurent Pelly’s 1999 Paris Opéra production during its 2007 season, and Robert Carsen’s new production debuted at Paris’ Opéra-Comique in 2014. …
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