Opera Profiles

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
03The Early Music Show20100717
03The Early Music Show2010071720110206 (R3)

Lucie Skeaping presents a profile of Lully's 17th-century operatic masterpiece Armide.

Lucie Skeaping presents a profile of Lully's 17th Century operatic masterpiece "Armide" with French conductor Hugo Reyne highlighting some of its qualities and innovations.

Jean-Baptiste Lully almost single-handedly created French opera, and his Tragedie-Lyrique (tragic opera) "Armide" about a sorceress and her love for the valiant hero Renaud, was the culmination of a long and fruitful collaboration with librettist Philippe Quinault. "Armide" was instantly recognised as a masterpiece, remarkable not only for its attractive music, and affective dramatic architecture, as for its genius in setting the French language to music, and the psychological depths portrayed by its characters.

As part of the BBC year long celebration of opera, and the Early Music Show's monthly profile of important Baroque masterworks, Lucie Skeaping examines "Armide" with contributions from Lully champion and conductor Hugo Reyne. Key moments from the opera are performed from CD by Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale.

03The Early Music Show20100717

09 LASTThe Early Music Show2010121820140316

Lucie Skeaping looks at Jean Philippe Rameau's comic masterpiece, the baroque opera Platée.

Rameau wrote the opera when he was in his sixties, for an entertainment at a court wedding at Versailles. The story tells of a foolish and ugly nymph who believes she is loved by Jupiter. The sense of the absurd permeates Rameau's score, with the composer and his librettist managing to create a wonderfully imaginative and colourful piece which turn many of the operatic conventions of the time on their head.

Rameau's contemporary, Melchior Grimm, considered the piece "sublime" while for Jean Jacques Rousseau it was a "divine" work. Even today it succeeds in firing the imaginations of opera producers and conductors, not least the French conductor Marc Minkowski, who explains why in the programme.

EMS02Alessandro Scarlatti's Griselda20100619

Griselda is the last surviving and 114th Opera by Alessandro Scarlatti, maybe the greatest composer of his generation.

Written a full 42 years after his first Opera, it was curiously neglected for a long time and after the premiere of the work in 1721, it was not to receive another performance until late in the 20th Century.

Catherine Bott explores Griselda and the reasons for its neglect, joined by the eminent early music expert and advocate of Scarlatti, Nicholas McGegan.

This programme forms part of the Early Music Show's monthly reflections on great Baroque operas, presented as part of the Opera on the BBC" festivities.

Catherine Bott explores Griselda, the last surviving opera by Alessandro Scarlatti."

EMS04Hasse's Piramo E Tisbe
EMS06Blow: Venus And Adonis20101003

Catherine Bott introduces a performance of John Blow's Masque "Venus and Adonis" presented at the 2010 York Early Music Festival by Theatre of the Ayre directed by Elizabeth Kenny.

This broadcast is given as part of the Early Music Show's monthly celebration of baroque opera, and the BBC's year long Focus on Opera.

Venus and Adonis was the last masque ever composed for the Stuart Court, and while it is in effect a miniature opera, it was intended as a vehicle for the members of the royal court to take part in.

John Blow crafted an exquisite allegory on contemporary court issues around the classical myth of the goddess Venus and her thwarted love for the mortal Adonis.

It became the model for Purcell's celebrated Dido and Aeneas.

Catherine Bott talks to several of the participants in this production about the work, and introduces the performance which was given as the climax to this year's York festival.

Catherine Bott introduces a performance of John Blow's Masque "Venus and Adonis".

EMS08Handel - Alcina20101127

Lucie Skeaping continues the Early Music Show's series of opera profiles by delving into the music and history surrounding Handel's "Alcina".

Based on the epic poem by Ariosto, the libretto by Antonio Marchi provided Handel with some very intense dramatic opportunities, including star-crossed lovers, dark magic and madness.

Alcina was composed for Handel's first season at London's Covent Garden Theatre, and it premiered on April 16, 1735.

Like many of the composer's other serious stage works, it fell into general obscurity; after a revival in Brunswick in 1738 it was not performed again until a production in Leipzig nearly two centuries later, in 1928.

It has now become one of Handel's most popular operas.

Lucie Skeaping talks to the American harpsichordist and musical director Alan Curtis at his home in Florence, who recorded Alcina in 2007 with his ensemble Il Complesso Barocco.

That recording also starred Joyce DiDonato in the title role and Karina Gauvin as her sister Morgana (the role that was originally written for Thomas Arne's wife, Cecila Young).

Lucie Skeaping delves into Handel's opera Alcina, with musical director Alan Curtis.

EMS09 LASTRameau - Platee20101218

In the final monthly focus on a baroque opera, Lucie Skeaping looks at Jean Phillipe Rameau's comic masterpiece, Platee.

Rameau wrote the opera when he was in his sixties, for an entertainment at a court wedding at Versailles.

The story tells of a foolish and ugly nymph who believes she is loved by Jupiter.

The sense of the absurd permeates Rameau's score, with the composer and his librettist managing to create a wonderfully imaginative and colourful piece which turn many of the operatic conventions of the time on their head.

Rameau's contemporary Melchior Grimm considered the piece "sublime" while for Jean Jacques Rousseau it was a "divine" work.

Even today it succeeds in firing the imaginations of opera producers and conductors, not least the French conductor Marc Minkowski who explains why in the programme.

Lucie Skeaping delves into Rameau's comic masterpiece, Platee.