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Much to Contemplate

New ideas at Santa Fe Opera,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN


Part One of the 2007 Santa Fe Opera Experience was about great traditional opera, Puccini's La bohème and Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. Part Two, Rameau's Platée and Tan Dun's Tea, a Mirror of the Soul, was about great fun, interesting new ideas and experimentation in both music and staging.

On Wednesday 22 August 2007, Santa Fe Opera presented Jean-Philippe Rameau's 1745 lyric comedy Platée. It has a libretto by Adrien Le Valois d'Orville based on a play by Jacques Antreau. The opera was composed for the marriage of the fifteen year old son of French King Louis XV to the Spanish infanta, Maria Teresa. She was less than a stunning beauty, but the young man loved her and they were happy to be married to each other. Although the text of the opera tells of some nasty tricks being played on an unattractive fiancée, it was well received at the wedding festivities. Soon afterwards, the composer was given a title and a healthy stipend.

The Corps de frog ballet from Rameau's 'Platée' at Santa Fe Opera. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
The Corps de frog ballet from Rameau's 'Platée' at Santa Fe Opera. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard

Comedy was not often encountered in French opera of the mid eighteenth century, so this opera was unusual even in its own time. In 1749, Platée was revived at the Opéra in Paris, but it fell into obscurity after a decade and was not heard again until the dawn of the twentieth century. Currently, it is quite popular. Several productions have been seen in the US and Europe during the past season.

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Copyright © 9 September 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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