Jean-Philippe Rameau: Pigmalion
Dunedin Consort, John Butt
Spitalfields Music Festival, Christchurch Spitalfields
Online premiere, Tuesday 6 July
Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Pigmalion is an acte de ballet first performed in August 1748 at the Opéra in Paris to a libretto by Ballot de Sauvot. It was apparently composed within a week at the request of the management as a means of raising much needed revenue. It has since become one of Rameau’s finest one-act works, although performances are rare. It is based on the story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses where Pigmalion falls in love with the beautiful female statue he has just sculpted, to the chagrin of his fiancée Céphise. Pigmalion pleads with L’Amour (the goddess Venus) to bring the statue to life. As the statue comes to life and learns to sing and dance, Cupid arrives and praises Pigmalion for his artistry, followed by dancing and singing in praise of the power of love. Cupid helps Céphise to find a more appropriate lover.