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Paris’ Opéra Comique presents Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, with the Pygmalion Ensemble and Chorus under the direction of Raphaël Pichon. Reinoud Van Mechelen stars as Hippolyte, with Elsa Benoit as Aricie, supported by Stéphane Degout (Thésée), Séraphine Cotrez (Oenone), Eugénie Lefebvre (Diane), and more.
The prince Hippolyte loves Aricie, a beautiful prisoner devoted to Diana’s cult. As King Theseus disappears in the underworld, Hippolyte asks his mother in law, Queen Phaedra, for help. Little does he know that Phaedra secretly loves him and wants to offer him her hand and throne in marriage. And who could imagine that Theseus would come back from Pluto’s kingdom?
On the 1st of October 1733, a lyrical tragedy of such extraordinary intensity was created that changed the course of French music. Hippolyte and Aricie was based on the Greek myth of Eurydice and the works of Racine. Inspired, Rameau, then an organist and little-known theorist in his fifties, thus produced his first opera. From then on, he ruled the music scene with his descriptive orchestral writing and inventive harmony, both always at the service of drama.
Rameau adjusted his work each time it was played. The performance here is the 1757 version, without prologue. Raphaël Pichon directs the Pygmalion group, an exceptional ensemble playing period instruments. (Summary courtesy of Opera Comique)
This program is a part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, a series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in June and lasts until the end of November.