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Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Atys, a tragédie en musique, became known as the ‘king’s opera’ due to Louis XIV’s fondness for it. The work stands as a testament to the Sun King’s courtly refinement, as well as his moves to make France the center of European artistic culture. The opera’s themes of romantic dilemmas and ultimate tragedy, set amidst the poetic atmosphere of Ovid’s classical mythology, create the perfect vehicle for a narrative filled with dramatic intensity combined with a myriad of moving and expressive arias and duets. William Christie conducts this acclaimed production – hailed by The New York Times as being ‘as satisfying it is bold’.
The role of Atys is physically as well as vocally taxing, but is here superbly realised by the German tenor, Bernard Richter, while the French soprano, Emmanuelle De Negri, is an excellent Sangaride, with the creamy voice of the mezzo, Stephanie D’Oustrac, as Cybele completing the love triangle. The cast list is large, and with the Compagnie Fetes Galantes providing the dancers, the stage is at times totally filled. The reviews at the time of filimg (2011) were suitably euphoric regarding the casting, and equally of the presence of the period instrument orchestra, Les Arts Florrissants, with the idiomatic conducting of William Christie. The filming itself is immaculate in its ideal mix of full stage and close-up images, while the sound quality is gorgeous.
– David's Review Corner (David Denton)