You’ll have to excuse me while I celebrate an important birthday…..
Happy birthday Jean Philippe Rameau, born September 25, 1683, in Dijon, France, and destined to become one of that nation’s greatest composers. His operas are utterly astonishing things (nothing sounds quite like the French Baroque!), and you can see some terrific recent productions of them courtesy of the wonderful Naxos Video Library.
Here’s a sample from YouTube of the exotic Les Sauvages from Les Indes Galantes, to whet the appetite. Victorian registered customers can watch this whole extraordinary performance from the Paris Opera right here via the Naxos Video Library, and lots more besides!
Despite its age, this book by Cuthbert Girdlestone (I know, I know…..) remains one of the best surveys of the great man’s life and work, and was written well in advance of the major rediscovery of Rameau that has been occurring over the last ten or so years.
And of course, the wonderful online Naxos Music Library is packed with lots of terrific performances of his operatic, choral and instrumental works.
Speaking of the French Baroque, Rameau’s great predecessor Jean Baptiste Lully can also sound startlingly modern, and this wild depiction of snake-headed Medusa from his opera Persee is entirely charming (in a humorously camp kind of way). You can watch this entire terrific performance from Canada’s Opera Atelier via the Naxos Video Library.