Boston Baroque's Les Indes Galantes

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Hear Boston Baroque in Rameau's Les Indes Galantes

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In May of 2011, Boston Baroque and music director Martin Pearlman (left), capped off their 38th season with a production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les Indes Galantes at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.  Not exactly opera as we think of that term now, but rather an extravagent bringing-together of music, drama, and dance particular to its time, Les Indes Galantes includes lyrical music-making, spectacular tableaux, and infectious, toe-tapping dance.

The prologue sets things in motion: Hébé, goddess of youth, laments seeing the young men of Europe lured by the goddess of war’s promises of glory, and asks Cupid to go abroad, to exotic, faraway lands (“les Indes”), in search of love.

There follow four acts, each a self-contained love story: Le Turc généreux (The Generous Turk), Les Incas du Pérou (The Incas of Peru), Les Fleurs – fête Persane (The Flowers – Persian Festival), and Les Sauvages d’Amerique (The Savages of America). The libretto and music reflect Parisian society’s fascination with the New World and the Near East. For example, two Native Americans from French colonial Louisiana were brought to Paris in 1725 and performed, inspiring Rameau to write a set of harpsichord pieces called Les Sauvages, some of which he adapted here.

Tune in to Classical New England on 99.5 WCRB in Boston or 88.7 WJMF in Providence, or stream the performance here at classicalnewengland.org at 6:30pm on Sunday, Nov. 18. The cast includes sopranos Amanda Forsythe and Nathalie Paulin, tenors Aaron Sheehan and Daniel Auchincloss, and baritones Sumner Thompson and Nathaniel Watson.

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