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Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny (1729-1817): Le Roi et le Fermier (The King and the Farmer), comic opera / Allen, Sharp, Labelle, Dolié, Thompson, Ziegler

Album Summary

>Monsigny, Pierre-Alexandre : Le Roi et le Fermier, opera
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Le Roi et le fermier made Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny famous in France and beyond. Set in an evocative and at times stormy Sherwood Forest it tells of a King's encounter with a humble farmer, blending comedy with serious issues. Its numerous innovations foreshadow Romanticism, making it a milestone in operatic history, with librettist Michel-Jean Sedaine admiring Monsigny's daring in taking 'the risk of setting a new genre to music. This production should be noted and remembered in the annals of Versailles, for the intelligence of its staging, the beauty of its sets, and its high musical quality' (Opera Magazine).

American Record Guide, March/April 2014
Opera Lafayette, period instruments and all, have discovered yet another charming piece from the 18th Century Paris entertainment industry. Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny (1729-1817) had a great success with the piece. Labelle leads this group of fine artists with her tender, fluttering Jenny. It's a merry performance, recorded in 2012 at the University of Maryland.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Dekelboum Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, U (01/23/2012/01/24/2012).


An entertaining curiosity
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny was a mid-18th century French composer who was active at Versailles and whose style falls squarely into the post-Baroque, Rococo vein. The "King and the Farmer" is a very pretty, easy to enjoy opera-comique that will remind many of the music of Lully or some Rameau. The libretto in this case contains a fair amount of political satire and was actually based on an English play "The King and the Miller." Despite the elements in the plot that somewhat poke fun of monarchy and make country-folk seem more practical and wise, it is said that Marie Antoinette enjoyed this little farce and the actual stage sets from the premiere somehow survived the mayhem of the French Revolution. I am not really an "expert" on music of this period but I do enjoy it! There are many charming and pretty arias and set pieces to be enjoyed and the performances are quite good. I was particularly taken with the work of Dominique Labelle as "Jenny" and Thomas Michael Allen as 'The King.' The Opera Lafayette Orchestra, suitably sized to this score, plays very well indeed under the direction of Ryan Brown. I heartily recommend this for fans of early opera, especially those who already enjoy Lully. Monsigny is an important figure whose music owes something to the French Rococo as well as presages some of the best classical theater works.
Submitted on 10/02/13 by Dan Coombs 
Very entertaining comic opera!
This disc is a recording of an Opera Lafayette production of Le Roi et le fermier (“The King and the Farmer”) by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny, which was performed for the first time in November of 1762 (according to the well-written and informative liner notes). Conducted by Ryan Brown, who champions works from the 18th century, the orchestra is spritely, warm, and a treat to listen to. And given that the sets are from the time of Marie- Antoinette, who actually performed the role of Jenny on more than one occasion, this had to be a historical delight to see in person.

In this case, the recording itself is wonderful. Kudos goes to Dominique Labelle (soprano) in the role of Jenny, as well as Thomas Michael Allen (tenor) as the King. I also note that the sound effects during the storm sequence (wind machine, etc.) definitely added an air of fun as well as enhancing the “I wish I could see this live” feeling of the production. The story itself is comic and simplistic, but that definitely works for the musical material. The only thing I could have wished for was the actual libretto to be printed in the liner notes, as I would have enjoyed following along with the recording.

All that being said, this is a fun recording of a production that the cast obviously enjoyed putting on, and I very much enjoyed listening to it. Delightfully recommended.

Submitted on 01/01/14 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Monsigny, Pierre-Alexandre : Le Roi et le Fermier, opera
  • Conductor: Ryan Brown
  • Ensemble: Opera Lafayette Orchestra
  • Notes: Dekelboum Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, USA (01/23/2012/01/24/2012)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1762