Genevieve PM Roy
the Cast of L'Europe GalanteLast Thursday, the Mont- Royal Baroque company performed L'Europe Galante (Galant Europe), an opéra-ballet comprising of a prologue and four acts written by André Campra, at the majestic Rialto Theater in the heart of Montreal.
Last Thursday, the Mont-Royal Baroque company performed L'Europe Galante (Galant Europe), an opéra-ballet comprising of a prologue and four acts written by André Campra, at the majestic Rialto Theater in the heart of Montreal.
Created in Paris in 1697, the opera is regarded as the first opéra-ballet, which subsequently grew in popularity throughout Europe, thanks in no small part to Rameau (one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era). The series of four various story intrigues all shared a common theme – the study of 'love' in four different countries; France (intrigue 1), Italy (intrigue 2), Spain (intrigue 3), and Turkey (intrigue 4) - rather than following a more traditional narrative.
Clavecinist Susan Toman and Tenor David Menzies dually shared the role of artistic director in this Montreal production. I was fully impressed with the minute attention given to keeping the opera ballet authentic in regards to French Baroque style: The opera took place in the spectacular Rialto Theater whose design is majorly inspired by Neo-Baroque and Parisian Opera House style.
Baroque dancing involves precise footwork and a more rhythmic relationship to the music versus classical ballet. A troupe of specialized Baroque ballet dancers was recruited by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursiere, (who was in charge of Choreography) from her Montreal based baroque dance company Jardins Choregraphiques.
The entire cast was dressed in sumptuous period costumes that reflected the characteristics of each of the four different countries without being overly stereotypical. The Compagnie Baroque Mont-Royal led by Susan Toman, all played on Baroque instruments that fully brought forth the sound of the steady bass line that typically becomes more independent of the melody in Baroque music.
Through the warm voices and expressive acting of Dawn Bailey (soprano), Ellen Wieser (soprano), David Menzies (tenor) and Emanuel Lebel (baritone), we were invited to explore the different facets of love in four very distinct nations with very traditional imagery, highlighted by intermittent dance interludes: Amid the lovely setting of a peaceful countryside, the French show their passionate but mischievous side. In a charming courtyard under the balcony of his mistress, the Spaniard serenades with words of sweet romance and eternal love. In the midst of a stunning ballroom, the Italian man is jealous and possessive of his beautiful lover. Finally, in the sequestered living quarters used by the wives and concubines of a Turkish Ottoman household, we feel the air of haughtiness and temper that reigns in the air...
Although the singers sometimes spoke in recitative form in Italian and Spanish, the majority of the opera was performed in French and the whole performance exploited a variety of musical and choreographic styles that beautifully reflected the tone of refined and courtly French entertainment. A visual and auditory treat for all period music and ballet lovers.
L'Europe Galante (Galant Europe)
Direction / harpsichord: Susan Toman
Direction / choreography: Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière
Dawn Bailey, soprano
Ellen Wieser, soprano
David Menzies, tenor
Emanuel Lebel, baryton
Dominic Guilbault, baroque violin
Mélanie de Bonville, baroque violin
Bennett Mahler, viola
Rafael Sanchez Guevara, viola da gamba
Camille Paquette-Roy, baroque cello
Kimberly Reine, flute
Vincent Lauzer, recorder
Joel Verkaik, oboe
Susan Toman, harpsichord/direction
Choir: One Equal Musick, dir. Christopher Hossfeld
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