Rameau: Pigmalion

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.

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Armonico Consort – Dido & Aeneas

Dido & Aeneas
Spitalfields Festival. Armonico Consort
Village Underground, 9 June 2015

I’m not sure if the ‘alternative’ venue of Village Underground (with old London underground trains, converted into artist’s studios, on the roof) was the ideal venue for this performance of Dido & Aeneas, not WP_20150513_20_23_47_Proleast given the nature of Armonico Consort’s rather staid production. It was also singularly unwise of director Christopher Monks to tell us all in his introductory talk that we would have “never seen a performance like this before”. I am still not quite sure what he meant by that remark, but it kept me waiting for something special or unusual to happen – which it didn’t. His comment did turn out to be true, in a way, but not in the way that I think he intended. Continue reading