Les Fêtes Vénitiennes

I admit it, this was the performance I was most looking forward to this spring at BAM: I saw Les Fêtes Vénitiennes on Thursday evening. Wow! It was thrilling. It was funny. It was lush. It was over the top. It was everything I love about French Baroque opéra-ballet.  William Christie and Les Arts Florissants are always exciting to experience. I was lucky to have attended their most recent BAM productions: Atys in 2011 and David et Jonathas in 2013 — as well as Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau the same season. (When I read the list of their past performances at BAM that I have missed, I could weep. Why didn’t I discover them sooner?) But rather than cry over operas lost, let me rave about this fabulously grand feast for the senses: the gorgeous music by André Campra (played on period instruments); the clever dancing by the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam and choreographed by Ed Wubbe; the sumptuous costumes by Petra Reinhardt; the effective lighting by Robert Carsen and Peter van Praet; all set against the rich scenery by Radu Boruzescu. It was easy to imagine myself part of the Sun King’s dazzling court, delighting in the frivolous spectacle before me. The hedonism of Carnival in Venice set the stage for these sappy, delightful vignettes. (Why be so serious all the time? Sometimes I just want cake for dinner!) I think this early form of opera might be my absolute favorite genre. But I need to see much more of Les Arts Florissants — and Opéra Comique (who partnered with them on this one) — to be completely sure! Bring it on — s’il vous plaît! (Did I really just say that? Yes. Yes I did!)

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