The double bill of William Christie and Robert Carsen was just too tempting to miss. But impossible to get tickets, even two months ahead. Thank God for a good friend, a culture vulture like me, who thought of inviting me for my birthday to « Les Fêtes Vénitiennes », a baroque opera composed by André Campra in 1710.
I wore my best zibeline, and Ferragamo purple shoes, to honor him on this special occasion. And I did well because the level of elegance on stage (not in the Opera Comique theatre, unfortunately) was HIGH. Petra Reinhardt, the costume designer is a genius ! and the whole evening’s success relied on the staging by Robert Carsen.
The opera opens on a gigantic red puppet at the Venice Carnival. American tourists dressed in Burberry raincoats and carrying rucksacks are taking pictures of San Marco square. Very quickly
different orgy scenes take place with nuns and priests crossing the stage. The visual effect is RED and BLACK throughout the opera and the love vignettes designed by André Campra to entertain courtiers and Parisians at the dreary end of Louis XIV’s reign are hilarious. The red suspensions, red chairs, the succession of fabulous dresses including a few transvestites, the masks, the half naked red headed dancers, the young ladies carrying casino tables, every detail is brilliant and it gave me an instant nostalgy for masked balls.
Unfortunately, the music is not as fun. Sir William Christie’s long beautiful 70 year-old hands lead his orchestra of Arts Florissants with grace but still…. The beauty of the staging reminded me of Atys in 1986 when the Maestro took Paris by surprise with Jean Marie Villégier and made us discover the richness of Lully’s music and ballets. The Opera comique was packed but socialite Marie Hélène de Rothschild and her clique were not there anymore and there was a sense of « things past »… For all of you who could not get tickets, rejoice. “Les Fêtes Vénitiennes” will resume in Caen on April 1st and 2nd and at the Capitole de Toulouse next season!
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