1 videodisc (NTSC) (90 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
This program features a discussion of 18th-century French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les boréades, interspersed with performances of excerpts from the opera. Christie provides historical background, explaining that Les boréades was Rameau's last opera, written in the 1750s and rehearsed at the court of Versailles, but never performed until it was rediscoverd in the late 19th century. Director Robert Carsen recounts the story of the opera, which is set in ancient Bactria, and Christie discusses the French Baroque musical idiom, which is heavily reliant on recitative and requires a precise declamatory style from singers. He also discusses the music's rhythmic alterations, which are not written down but must be supplied by the orchestra and singers, and makes an argument for Rameau as a visionary, avant-garde composer. Each of Christie's points in demonstrated by the performance of a relevant passage from the opera.
Les boréades was performed by Les Arts Florissants, under William Christie's musical direction and Robert Carsen's stage direction, at Brooklyn Academy of Music in June 2003.
Opera excerpts sung by Paul Agnew (Abaris), Jaël Azzaretti (Sémire), Hanna Bayodi (Nymphe/Polymnie), Jean-Sébastien Bou (Borilée), Laurent Naouri (Borée), Anna Maria Panzarella (Alphise), Nicolas Rivenq (Adamas/Apollon), and Toby Spence (Calisis). Music played by Les Arts Florissants, including Hiro Kurosaki and Myriam Gevers (violin), Galina Zinchenko (viola), David Simpson (cello), Anne-Marie Lasla (viola de gamba), Jonathan Cable (bass), Serge Saïta and Chales Zebley (flute), Pier Luigi Fabretti and Michel Henry (oboe), Claude Wassner and Philippe Miqueu (bassoon), and Béatrice Martin (harpsichord). Conductor: William Christie. Commentators: William Christie and Robert Carsen.
Recorded as part of the Works & process performance series at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, on June 12, 2003.
With support from The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, digitization and DVD authoring of the Works & process at the Guggenheim video archive was done by StreamingCulture at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York.