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Atys (Lully) [Reino Unido] [DVD]

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Tanto piacque l’Atys a Luigi XIV che dalla corte fu rappresentata all’Académie Royale de Musique; con le sue danze e l’alta espressività del canto spopolò e divenne oggetto di molte parodie. Uno tra i capolavori del sodalizio fra Lully e il librettista Quinault. Bernard Richter, Stéphanie d’Oustrac, Emmanuelle de Negri; Les Arts Florissants

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13 de 13 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas A Dream Come True! 18 de noviembre de 2011
Por Dr. John W. Rippon - Publicado en
Formato: DVD Compra verificada
In the early 1970s I had the privilege to attend a two semester course under Prof. Philip Gosset at the University of Chicago on the History of Opera. One of the great rewards of that study was a begining appreciation of Baroque Opera. Among the gems discovered was an introduction to the music and style of Jean-Baptiste Lully. Only a few bits and pieces were available at the time on recordings of Luly's music, but Dr. Gosset would play excerpts and sometimes sing (?) from the operatic scores. We came to appreciate the subtle modulations to keys distant from the original and the ease with which he could return. Compared to what was being done in Italian opera at the Venetian school, this music was much more refined and subtle of expression. We also noted that sections, arias, recitatives and divertissement all moved effortlessly in a single flowing line rather than be broken into set pieces. Of course the Frech Opera style as invented by Lully (who was Italian by birth) in addition to music and drama (a sung story)also included dance sections. This latter was at the behest of the king Louis XIV who was an accomplished dancer as was Lully himself (at the time only men were dancers). As in French theater, the emphasis in singing was on declamation; that the language, that every word be understood. (Just listen to this recording!) In addition there was the significant use of gesture in the theater and in operatic presentations. All of this is beautifully brought forth in this magnificant production led by William Christie. It is a dream come true from Baroque Opera class.
Atys is the fourth Tragedie en Musique by Lully and the very gifted poet Philippe Quinault. (The first written by this team Les Fetes de l'Amour et de Bacchus is a pastoral) By the time of this score the subplots and comedic intrusions, so common in Italian Opera at the time, had all but diappeared in Lully's writing. The drama was enhanced so much that in the finale, the death of Atys by his own hand is truly tragic. There are now DVDs available of several of Luly's works, among them are Cadmus et Hermione, Persee' and the comedie-ballet Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme written with Moliere. All are very enjoyable and highly recommended. I am particularly enthused by the production of Persee'. It is a great pleasure to have all of these to enjoy that we read about in that music class of many years ago.
3 de 3 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas High drama about love and betrayal in the early opera 7 de marzo de 2014
Por XUANTU - Publicado en
Formato: Blu-ray Compra verificada
Just as Mr. Ronald Stanton felt compelled to donate 3 million bucks to have these brilliant artists put on this show all over again (after its modern premiere in 1986-87), I am compelled to join the other reviewers here chanting the greatness of this Atys, an inspired and important staging of Lully's forth "tragedy in music". Few other operas from any era that I have seen, let alone Baroque ones, can match its dramatic intensity and intelligence. The plot focuses on the tragic love between Atys, a mortal who was also secretly loved by the goddess Cebele, and Sangaride, a nymph unwillingly betrothed to King Celenus (who had been kind and generous to Atys). The two lovers eventually decided to put their duties aside and flee together, which incurred the wrath of the goddess. They both died violent deaths. Frankly speaking, Lully is not at his musical best here as he is in Armide (of which a perfectly enjoyable recent performance by William Christie and his artists is also available on blu ray). However, his music is observant of the subtleties in Quinault's excellent libretto, and is admirably effective, albeit within the bounds of French Baroque sensibility.

For those who are new to the French Baroque, this music may have a certain peculiarity to its style, but it is lovely, expressive and can be excitingly sophisticated. Many have commented on the all very important and beautiful dream sequence in Act 3 (where Atys was first told of and then warned of Cebele's demanding affection). The quarrel and reconciliation between Atys and Sangaride in Act IV starts as recitative that naturally flows into a heart-breaking duet - somewhere in their hearts, the two lovers knew that there would be no tomorrow for them. I also love Cebele's music - her entrance at the end of Act 1 is permeated with a regal, ceremonial air; her laments at the end of Act 3 (when she first had the suspicion of the love between Atys and Sangaride) and Act 5 (over Atys' tragic death) are both very touching and show her startlingly human side. Unusual for Baroque operas, Quinault's libretto (excluding the prologue) does not fool around with secondary characters or irrelevant subplots. Every scene in it pushes the story forward; every bit of it makes perfect theatrical sense - its integrity and compactness is unparallelled even in Lully and Quinault's canon.

William Christie directs Les Arts Florissants with elan and understanding. His cast is uniformly strong. The clear-voiced Atys, played by the impressive young tenor Bernard Richter, is ever alert to the musical dynamics and the dramatic situations of his character; his final scene is especially powerful. Stephanie d'Oustrac's Cebele uses less vocal embellishment than Guillemette Laurens in the original 1987 sound recording, but she phrases and colors her tone with meaning; her acting is deeply felt. Similarly, Emmanuelle de Negri's portrayal of Sangaride is exquisitely detailed (perhaps more so in her acting than singing). Her betrothed, King Celenus is authoritatively played by Nicolas Rivenq (he played this role in the 1987 production), though vocally he is less fresh than usual. The chorus sings with clear diction and finds different shades in each emotion that it is called on to project.

The set and costumes are beautifully designed and crafted, full of details (indeed, sumptuous is the word). I have no problem that the stage and all the performers are dressed up in Louis XIV's court style, because Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, says earlier in the prologue that Cebele wants her to present this story, to commemorate Atys. The show itself is thus a retelling of the legend, making a style that honors Lully's time and culture no less appropriate than any other. (In fact, the 17 century court style gives the director more means to suggest the state of mind of characters, for example, when Atys and Sangaride shed their wigs in the final act, you know that they no longer considered themselves part of the Cebele-Phrygian establishment.) Jean-Marie Villegier's stage direction is clearly originated from the text; rich, potent, and sensitive, it enhances the musical experience very nicely. Dancing elements, so important to French Baroque operas, are relatively suppressed in Atys (a sound judgment by the authors), but whenever given space (as in the dream sequence), they gently flourish and add much to the pleasure.
22 de 23 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Thumbs Up to ATYS 25 de noviembre de 2011
Por Joseph L. Ponessa - Publicado en
Formato: Blu-ray Compra verificada
I have spent the last two days immersed in the blu-ray of Lully's 315-minute opera ATYS as presented earlier this year in Paris. Soon into the lengthy work something became noticeable in particular, that although I was following along with the English subtitles, the French diction was so clear that I could actually understand nearly every word and sometimes anticipate the next one, despite my challenged French. I recalled that I had read in the liner notes to Charpentier's MEDEE, recorded by Christie in the 1980's, how the cast had assembled to read through the words of the entire libretto first, before beginning to rehearse the music. So I continued to follow the blu-ray of ATYS closely. After an hour, I had to retire for the night, but the next day resumed viewing, and then went on to watch the excellent 100-minute interview disc. There even more substance was added to the rationale for emphasizing the declamation of the text.
Lully virtually invented French opera, after working for some time in collaboration with Moliere on music for stage plays. Lully lived in the golden age of French drama, and had excellent texts available to set to music. William Christie wrote his dissertation in America on the role of declamation and rhetoric in French opera, before going to France and putting his theories into practice. The result has been a resurrection of French baroque style. The 1989 revival of ATYS after two hundred years of dormancy was an important event in that revival, and the current blu-ray documents the 2011 reincarnation of that production with the same director, who is also a scholar of the period in his own right.
This ATYS is not exactly the same as the original production in 1676. Only one decor is used, instead of the six provided for in the libretto--but through use of lighting effects and movable appointments, the atmosphere changes appropriately from act to act. The number of dancers employed is reduced from the large forces called for in the libretto--but the choreography is so excellent and blends so well with the choral forces on stage that they form part of a total ensemble. Christie is asked in the documentary why he chose to use modern French pronunciation instead of reconstructed pronunciation from the period. He says he does not regret his decision, because he wanted to emphasize the clarity rather than the antiquity of the work, but that in future he may change his mind. There are a few excellent performances in baroque French available--LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME and Charpentier's MEDEE--and this opera would have been interesting that way, but that is not to detract from the level of interest it has this way.
Stamina is required for the enjoyment of an opera this long--but having recently worked my way through Kurosawa's Kagemusha and two films of Lord of the Rings trilogy, I would say that the stamina required here is no more than that required in the case of other lengthy works. The fact that the staging is true to the baroque aesthetic makes the length tolerable. In the case of the recent blu-ray release of Lully's ARMIDE, also conducted by Christie but with a modernizing director, the performance became intolerable when a hirsute baritone took the stage in a red dress and lipstick. I have just had it with that stuff. By the way, his diction was not as good as that of the singers in ATYS either. So it's thumbs down to ARMIDE but thumbs up to ATYS.
7 de 7 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas A 'second attempt' by Bill Christie in deluxe manner. 7 de febrero de 2012
Por Abert - Publicado en
Formato: DVD Compra verificada
What was operatic productions like before the avante garde minimalists set in? This reprised 1987 production of Lully's grand opera 'Atys' is another good example.
In the last DVD we have more than an hour's informative material about the production itself. The sets and costumes are ultra-elaborate, and the results are truly glamorous, befits totally the courtly premiere of this work before Louis XIV.
It is a real marvel to see Rivenq reprising the role of the human monarch Celenus. He was much younger in 1987, and the voice much lighter, but in this 2011 performance, his performance is even more refined.
I agree that Bernard Richter in the title role is a real find. Perhaps the best lyrical Swiss tenor since Ernest Haefliger, he must be circumspect with his choice of roles, given the very fine and light-textured timbre that he owns.
The two female roles are also wonderfully performed, with D'Oustrac effectively portraying a goddess Cybele that is awesome and capricious in turn. Di Negri as Sangaride, the lover of Atys and bride of the king, is convincingly sweet and pathetic.
The ballet dancers and choregraphy are truly spectacular. The stage is furnished in the form of a palace hall.
We are indeed lucky to have Christie directing the reprisal of such a wonderful production!
16 de 17 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas A "Traditional" Production? 9 de enero de 2012
Por Gio - Publicado en
Formato: DVD Compra verificada
How can there be a 'traditional' or 'authentic' staging when there is obviously no 'tradition'? French baroque opera was extinct for centuries, more extinct than the mastodon, until musicologist-performers like Bill Christie and Alan Curtis recovered its DNA from amber. This Atys is lavishly, expensively costumed - thanks to unique patronage of one very rich man - and gorgeously set, though not as extravagantly as the records imply for its 17th C premiere under the eyes of Louis XIV. The dance movements, as prominent in French Baroque as the singing, are impressively graceful and visually satisfying, but there would have been three or four times as many dancers "back then", and the singers might have exited to allow them scope. The dance steps executed in this production -- and "steps" is the key word, since upper bodies are largely immobilized in such costumes -- are historically informed; yes, there are verbal sources and there are scholars like Angene Feves who have explicated those sources. I'm somewhat surprised at how entertaining the dances are in this production; I've seen other efforts at dance-authenticity that have not been entertaining in the least. The blocking and other aspects of thespian behavior on stage are not historically informed; it's very doubtful that the 'naturalism' of the singing actors in this performance would have pleased 17th C taste. Besides, this is a film now, for us at home, with close-ups and camera angles and such, all very proficiently done, thank you. The most important authenticity is, of course, in the musical performance, by singers who have devoted their training to the recovery of plausible Baroque vocal technique, and by instrumentalists playing 'period' instruments, either actual 17th C survivors or minutely crafted reproductions. Yes, this staging is a visual feast. It makes a strong case for artistic 'cohesion' - for staging Baroque music in a Baroque-like visual context - but it concerns me to see the "I told you so" response from the usual conservatives, making the splendor of this production an excuse for snipping and sniping at other productions which choose a different artistic course. I'm thinking of the several "modernized" productions of operas by Rameau also conducted by William Christie. They're also beautiful. And entertaining. Powdered wigs and simulated candle-light are not the necessary accoutrements of superb music.

"Atys" is first and foremost superb music, probably the most imaginative and distinctive of all Lully's operas. The frequent duets from the secondary characters, for instance, are quite a bit more exceptional than most modern audiences will realize, and my ears find them entrancing. French Baroque opera eschewed the recitativo/aria pattern that dominated Italian baroque and classical opera well until the onset of the 19th C. In a sense, Lully and Rameau were closer to Verdi and Wagner than Mozart and Rossini were, in that the arioso singing is textually and musically integrated with the orchestral score. "Atys", however, gives us something of both French and Italian taste; there are no 'detachable' da capo arias but there are melodically memorable quasi-arias, especially those sung by the cruel goddess Cybele, that supply the affective intensity of the Italian da capo. Lully's instrumental writing is equally fluid in blending the 'ritornello' excitement of earlier Italian operas -- Monteverdi, Cavalli, etc. -- with the chaste rigor of French structuralism. Lully was Italian by birth and his Italian origins are more excitingly apparent in this opera than in most of his other works.

The plot of this opera is very loosely based on ancient Anatolian Greek mythology. Cybele was the none too beneficent 'Mother Earth' goddess of the Phrygians, later Romanized as an abstraction, and Atys was her self-castrating human consort. the cult of Cybele was in fact too orgiastic for Hellenic Greece. In the opera libretto, based on a poem by Philppe Quinault, Cybele is insufferably human in emotions, indifferent to the religious adoration of the masses but madly in love with the mortal Atys, a courtly prig who has incessantly denied the power of Love. Atys, however, is a deceiver; he too is madly in love, with Sangaride, the betrothed of his King Celenus. What's worse, Sangaride is secretly in love with Atys. Sticky business, no? But "Atys" is a 'tragédie en musique', although this production was staged by the Opéra Comique, and it's possible that the onstage death of Atys was a historical "first". Cybele, alas, had employed her godly powers by tricking Atys into slaying his true love Sangaride -- offstage -- but finds herself conscience-stricken, so that she immortalizes Atys by metamorphosis into a pine tree. [Modern science has revised her metamorphism by reclassifying "Atys" as a genus of gastropod, a pretty little sea snail.] The opera is not -- I repeat, NOT -- a melodramatic tragedy of the Romantic sort. The audience, including old Louis XIV, did not dissolve in tears except perhaps in affectation thereof. It's all about artifice and refinement. It was said to have been Louis XIV's favorite opera and it was therefore immediately enshrined, imitated, and parodied.

Cybel emerges as the driving dramatic persona in this modern performance, with her most intense musical passages contrasting brilliantly with the pastoral lyricism of the score at large. The role is sung and acted excellently by Stéphanie d"Oustrac. If "authenticity" is taken to mean complete theatrical coherence, visual as well as musical, then it matters a good deal that the actress look the part. D'Oustrac 'does look the part, a cruel selfish beauty, a divine narcissist like most deities, and she sings with a steely-blue virtuosity, with what Milton said of Satan, "darkness visible". Atys, in proper contrast, is a milksop, a bit of a fool; the role is acted convincingly and sung gorgeously by the sweet-faced Bernard Richter. Once again, in our world of cinematography, it matters that he looks the part. Indeed, every singer actor in this production succeeds both musically and photogenically. Don't overlook God of Sleep, sung by the omnipresent Paul Agnew, without whom no performance by William Christie would seem complete.

Bill Christie is a "living international treasure", arguably the finest conductor of Baroque Opera since Lully stomped hi big toe with his own staff and died of gangrene. Christie's orchestra "Les arts Florissants" is unsurpassed. For this production there was a substantially expanded crew in the pit, with 28 strings, gambas, traverso and recorder flutes, oboes, four sorts of lutes, two keyboards, percussion, and two bassoons. There are never too many bassoons! Listen to them! They have some delicious passages in this score, and the Baroque bassoon was inherently a more expressive instrument than its modern heir. Bill Christie is also a personal "hero" of mine, an opponent of the Vietnam War who took his initial leap to Europe in 1971 to escape the American draft. He is now a French citizen. The 1986 production of "Atys" brought him his first major acclaim, and this reincarnation of that production should consolidate his his stature.

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