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Lully - Atys
Jean-Baptiste Lully, William Christie, Les Arts Florissants
Lully - Atys
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #3

Jean-Baptiste Lully has long been known as the father of French opera; this 1987 recording was the first to suggest his works are fit for something more than the library shelf. Though the 1676 Atys lacks the depth of textu...  more »

      
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Jean-Baptiste Lully has long been known as the father of French opera; this 1987 recording was the first to suggest his works are fit for something more than the library shelf. Though the 1676 Atys lacks the depth of texture and characterization (as well as the sheer weirdness) found in Rameau, the opera is like a catalog of French Baroque recitative and aria techniques in this Dangerous Liaisons-style story of love and jealousy amid royals and gods. Ironically, when the title character goes to sleep in act 3, the music truly wakes up in an imaginative, strikingly mellifluous evocation of abstract gods such as Morpheus and Phantasmus. William Christie's direction isn't quite as crisp and polished as later recordings, but his sense of style and ability to find passion behind the operatic formality is rock solid, with fine vocal contributions by Guy de Mey (Atys), Agnes Mellon (Sangaride), and Guillemette Laurens (Cybele). --David Patrick Stearns
 

CD Reviews

Fantastique!
DAVID PETRICK | CARLISLE, PA United States | 05/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It is said that this opera was written by the Italian composer Lully for the famous sun king Louis XIV and that he so identified with the obscure mythical origin that he wept at the end. I have seen engravings of the grand event; it was staged in the inner court at a young Versailles, with thousands of candles. And only the king could sit on a chair with a back! They restaged this when I was in college, and I read that people still were sitting on benches to watch the 4.5 hour opera, and loving it. It may take a little getting used to and is a bit of a culture shock, but there are many lilting melodies, charming and graceful arias, entrees, gavottes, and overall I miss this opera much (it was stolen from my trunk). The music is baroque, early baroque, played on period instruments that give a shimmering quality to the music that I find most charming and unusual. The singers also have been trained to sing with the shimmering trills of the period. I particularly like the counter tenors, which is basically the highest tenors singing falsetto. For some reason Louis XIV identified with the protagonist: an exceptionally good and comely man, whom the earth godess falls in love with. She elevates him to the position of high priest over more qualified persons. He falls in love with his rivals' daughter, and when Cybele finds out, she castrates him. He laments his fate, kills himself, and when he dies, she turns him into a tree. If you like baroque opera, this is a gem. But not for the unsophisticated."
Wonderful: Christie gets better and better!
DAVID PETRICK | 03/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great recording, maybe not as great as some of the most recent Christie opera recordings, but distinguished nevertheless. Guy de Mey's singing is a bit too nervous for my tastes, but he gets it pretty close to the French baroque high tenor sound which is expected in a role like that. Later, Christie will get better tenors, first tapping more extensively into the talents of Jean-Paul Fouchecourt (who is present here in a small role), and then enlisting a couple of English guys (Padmore, Agnew and even Bostridge - who can compare with this lineup!). But in 1987, Les Arts Florissants already boasted a strong cast of performers. Agnes Mellon is marvellous. Too bad that she later somehow disappeared from Christie's universe. The most famous, and by far the most beautiful scene in the entire opera is the Scene du Sommeil. It is one of the most captivating quartets you will ever hear in your life. I also relished the scene Que l'on chante, que l'on danse with Sangar and the chorus of gods. Sangar is sung here by Bernard Deletre, who was reportedly recruited into baroque music by Christie himself. If that is true, I applaud Christie for catching Deletre because he is one of the most outstanding basses I've ever heard. Atys has a lot of beautiful music and a lot of beautiful performances - don't miss it!"
Stunning
DAVID PETRICK | 12/06/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"William Christie runs a very tight ship used to marvellous effect. I discovered this production thanks to un unforgettable live performance. The record reflects excellently that wonderful day although, unfortunately, the scene is missing. If you like baroque opera, this is a must."