Peggy Reynolds provides a historical and musical introduction to one of the great works of French Baroque opera, Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie. We hear from Jeanice Brooks, Professor of Music at the University of Southampton, who identifies Rameau as an almost exact contemporary of Handel and Bach, who started his musical career as an organist and theorist and went on to stage lavish operas for Louis XV as ‘Compositeur du Cabinet du Roi’. From writer and mythographer Marina Warner, who unfolds the myth which forms the basis of the opera’s narrative, and explores the Racine play which inspired Pellegrin’s libretto for Rameau’s opera. And from Sarah Connolly, who marvels at the richness of invention in Rameau’s music and explores the pivotal role of Phèdre, a woman doomed to an unattainable and incestuous love.
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Producer: Mair Bosworth for Festival 2013
(Musical extracts used with kind permission of Warner Music)