Hippolyte et Aricie in Concert Version: Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

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The staggering contrast between the severe and classical Racinian tragedy and the heady enchantments of baroque opera makes Rameau's first opera utterly unique and fascinating. A founding work in the history of opera.

On 1st October 1733, Rameau made his operatic debut at the Royal academy of music. Aged 50, the composer already had a great career as a musician and theorist behind him. Now it was time for the man of the theatre to establish himself and this was precisely what he would do for the next 25 years. All of a sudden, tragic opera took on new tones, colours and subjects. “A musical revolution has taken place', as Le Mercure of the times put it. But this revolution was not without its clashes: Hippolyte and Aricie « tired » Voltaire « by dint of its science », overcame old Campra because his rival squeezed in « enough music for ten operas», terrorised Le Mercure where, for the first time, the word « baroque » was associated with a musical work. Yet all the codes in force since Lully’s time are clearly there: a structure conforming to that invented 60 years earlier by its poet Quinault a deus ex machina theory and decorative figures. In each act, at the heart of the tragedy, a divertissement danced by cheerful sailors, hunters or shepherds.

Performed and subtitled in French

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