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Rameau Castor et Pollux
(Tragédie lyrique en 5 actes sur un livret de Pierre-Joseph Bernard)

Finnur Bjarnason, Castor
Henk Neven, Pollux
Anna Maria Panzarella, Télaire
Véronique Gens, Phébé
Nicolas Testé, Jupiter
Thomas Oliemans, le grand prêtre
Judith van Wanroij, Cléone/Suivante d’Hébé/Ombre heureuse
Anders. J Dahlin, Spartiate / Mercure

Koor van De Nederlandse Opera/Les Talens Lyrique:
Christophe Rousset

Mise en scène : Pierre Audi
chorégraphie : Amir Hosseinpour
décors et costumes : Patrick Kinmonth
lumières : Jean Kalman
TV producer : Ferenc van Damme

Opus Arte DVD OA 0999D [c.155 mins; 2007 Het Muziektheater Amsterdam]

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) hasn't quite made it to the regular repertoire, but some fine performances have been saved on DVD and reviewed by Musical Pointers.

There is a certain austerity in Audi's concept and the dance as choreographed here by Amir Hosseinpour to parallel the vocal action may be divisive. We loved it all; it is though far from a straightforward realisation of the score and (unusally) I do recommend seeing the concept discussed, beforehand or after the first Act.

Watched straight through in the theatre there may be longueurs, likewise on video for some (q.v. 'as piece of stage entertainment it seems cripplingly monotonous' - MusicOMH)* but taken an act at a time at home one has the great advantage of close up viewing of the costuming and movements about the stage. The filming is magnificent but never distracting from Rameau's music, with his often breathtakingly original orchestration, and arias which rise to the heights of key moments in the tragedy of a quartet of protagonists locked in complex interrelationships; brotherly love the overriding power which leaves the rival women bereft at the end.

Whether or not you are a devotee of “lyric tragedy” there is much to admire in the singing of this fine cast. The voices of Finnur Bjarnson and Henk Neven combine well as the inseparable twins, with Bjarnson totally persuasive in his final Tendre amour, qu’il est doux de porter tes chaines!

Anna Maria Panzarella has good clarity of tone and conveys the radiance that one should expect from a daughter of the sun, but it is Veronique Gens who is the real star. A singer of immense intelligence, she is able to convey each changing emotion as much through the colouring of her voice as her acting.

The whole performance draws strength from the outward simplicity of Audi’s direction. It is a DVD which works its spell insidiously; we will be returning to it and recommend it as "a good buy".

Serena Fenwick & Peter Grahame Woolf

* What do you think about this issue?
q.v. also from MusicOMH, about OpusArte
Romeo & Juliette: - - It suffers, however, from lacking sufficient visual appeal to sustain interest for three hours in a living room.