Requiem pour les funérailles de Louis XV

Chapelle Royale, Versailles

(Chapelle Royale, Versailles, 22 June 2016)

What do the composer Jean Gilles (1668-1705), the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and King Louis XV (1710-1774) have in common? The answer’s an odd one: they all had the same piece of music at their funerals. This was Gilles’s Messe des Morts, which had its premiere at its composer’s own funeral and remained so popular for the next seventy years that it was reworked and adapted in numerous ways to fit the requirements of later taste.

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Elena: Francesco Cavalli (1659)

Cavalli: Elena

(Aix-en-Provence, 2013, with Leonardo García Alarcón and Cappella Mediterranea)

How do I begin to describe Elena? It definitely isn’t your average opera. Imagine a Baroque cross-dressing operatic romantic comedy, with importunate lovers (plenty), pirates (sort of) and bears (briefly). How can you refuse something so gloriously over-the-top? Performed with gusto by a brilliant young cast, many of whom have since made names for themselves all over Europe, this charming, rambunctious, occasionally downright daft production from the Aix Festival is in a genre all by itself.

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