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Charpentier: Actéon / William Christie, Les Arts Florissants

Album Summary

>Charpentier, Marc-Antoine : Acteon, pastorale for chorus, strings & continuo, H. 481
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Charpentier's little vignette opera is an astonishingly rich score containing most, if not all, the ingredients of a tragédie-lyrique. There's a profusion of fine choruses and dances but an overture which departs somewhat from the standard Lullian pattern.

Actéon is made up of six well-contrasted short scenes. The first of them is musically the most colourful with appealing evocations of La chasse and a riotous dance as the hunters go in search of their quarry. The second scene is much gentler with a tender air for Diana, pastoral reflections from her followers and a recurring chorus of nymphs which recalls passages in Blow's Venusand Adonis. Jill Feldman as Arthebuze, one of Diana's attendants, is admirably languid in her air disdaining love's ardour. Scene 3 discloses a pensive Actéon who, while reflecting on matters of the heart, stumbles upon Diana and her retinue in a state of déshabillé. Actéon's defence is touching and is delicately portrayed by Domin- ique Visse. The fourth tableau begins with Acteon's discovery that he has been turned into a stag: 'A horrible fur enwraps me', he cries and, at this point Visse cleverly alters the character of his voice: 'Ma parole n'est plus qu'une confuse voix.' A poignant symphonie follows. In the fifth tableau Actéon is torn to pieces by his own hounds and, in the sixth and final scene, Junon imperious as ever explains to the hunters what they have just done. A chorus of grief mingled with anger sung by Acteon's followers brings this little opera de chasse to an end.

Christie directs the work from beginning to end with conviction and assurance. The action is well paced and there's an intensity of expression, a fervour, which gives a touching emphasis to the drama.

BBC Music Magazine
This performance of Charpentier's mini-opera has much to recommend it, not least the alert singing of the chorus. Not everyone, however, will warm to Visse's overly mannered reading of the title role.


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Works Details

>Charpentier, Marc-Antoine : Actéon, pastorale for chorus, strings & continuo, H. 481
  • Conductor: William Christie
  • Ensemble: Les Arts florissants
  • Running Time: 4 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1683-1685