<< -- 3 -- Robert Anderson HIGH JINKS
For a stormy confrontation between Atis and Orcan William Christie has commandeered
a wind machine for the pit to accompany the explosion of extras on the upper gallery.
The men battle it out, and the chorus adds to the bombardment
[listen -- Air de Furie: 'Quel bruit! -- Vengez l'innocence' (Act 2),
DVD1 track 38, 0:00-1:35].
The secret weapon against Anselm is the fairy Manto, the high tenor of François
Piolino. The male fairy caused mild outrage in 1760; now he/she is in the latest
fashion, and the mock-seduction of Anselm, played with contemporary conviction, is
guaranteed to bring any house down.
François Piolino (Manto, left) and René Shirrer (Anselme, right). DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
The fairy is entirely on the side of the young lovers. In the original La Fontaine
fable, Atis's main ally in winning Argie is a dog. Of course we see the dog aloft, but
it is Manto who does the dirty work against Anselm and frees the lovers
[listen -- Trio: 'Vengeons cet outrage!' (Act 3),
DVD2 track 19, 0:00-1:26].
That Rameau was attempting a 'comédie lyrique' rather than a farce is clear
from the final duet of Atis and Argie, music to melt any mood
[listen -- Duo: 'Ah, que j'aimerai mon vainqueur!' (Act 3),
DVD2 track 21, 0:00-1:21].
In the midst of the stage tomfoolery there has indeed been a wealth of fine singing.
Listening with ears alone, nobody could quite imagine there is a 'Baroque that rocks!'
Copyright © 1 February 2006
Robert Anderson, London UK