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Rameau Les Paladins

Les Arts Florissants

Recorded live at the Theatre du Chatalet 2004

Opus Arte OA 0938 D

2 DVDs 204 minutes

 

Musical Director William Christie

Stage Director, Set Designer & Video Producer Jose Montalvo

Choreographers Jose Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu

TV Director Francois Roussillon

 

Atis Topi Lehtipuu

Argie Stephanie d'Oustrac

Orcan Laurent Naouri

Nerine Sandrine Piau

Anselme Rene Schirrer

Manto Francoise Piolino

Un paladin Emiliano Gonzalez Toro

 

 

Les Paladins (The Knights Errant) was conceived as a piece of light entertainment, a comedie lyrique, and presented in Paris in 1760. Surprisingly, it's the work of an old man (Rameau was well into his 70's) and it is to be hoped that he is now present in some composers' afterlife from which he can look down on and enjoy this immensely pleasurable new version incorporating video projection and multimedia techniques without sacrificing any of its essentially baroque style.

 

The storyline is a familiar one. Atis, a personable young knight errant is in love with the heroine Argie, but she is imprisoned in the castle of her elderly suitor Anselme, and guarded by the cowardly Orcan. Nerine is firmly on Argie's side and tries to steal the keys to free her, but it is not until Atis enrols the help of the magical Manto that rescue is achieved.

 

Much of the music is devoted to dance performed with great joi de vivre by members of the Centre Choreographique de Creteil et de Val-de-Marne Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu. In brightly coloured costumes, both members of the chorus and dancers are individually characterised with facial expressions that are a work of art. The principal dancers double up with the protagonists in the drama, the singers tracking the dancers movements as though to reflect a comic and serious side of each personality.

 

As Anselme, Rene Schirrer makes an amiable villain, positively roaring with mock fury. The other members of the cast are all talented young singers of great presence and enthusiasm. Finnish born Topi Lehtipuu (Atis) sings with real authority and is a name worth watching out for, and Laurant Nauri (Orcan) has an immense flair for the ridiculous. It goes without saying that the orchestra plays under William Christie with impeccable style.

 

This performance is constantly enlivened by unexpected visual images, created by both the live participants and superimposed video footage. In the background are projected cartoon outlines of the cloudscapes, castles or magnificent gardens, The chorus arrives in a metro train, complete with RATP logo, characters are pecked by peacocks, pursued by rabbits and assailed by a complete video menagerie of animals cropping up in the unlikeliest of situations and then transforming themselves with lightning speed just like those much loved Monty Python sequences. There are balloons and streamers, trampolines and disguised entrances and it all mirrors perfectly the humour of Rameau's catchy tunes. Indeed there is so much detail that it impossible to absorb it all in a single viewing a great production to have on DVD and replay frequently.

 

The pack includes the full libretto and an interesting documentary Baroque that rocks ! made during rehearsals.

 

Serena Fenwick

 

 

 

© Peter Grahame Woolf