The gorgeous music of “Les Fêtes de Thalie” at the Lafayette Opera House at the Kennedy Center


Thalia’s Festival When it premiered in Paris in 1714, it was a challenging and provocative work: its central theme was controversial, with composer Jean Joseph Mouret and playwright Joseph Delafont Joseph de La Font even published a new coda two months later called La critique des fêtes de Thalie. This heartfelt baroque riposte criticizes its critics and challenges the viewer to determine whether dance, music, or the written word is the best art. Three centuries later, the Lafayette Opera House has a clear answer: It’s music, at least in this production.

Thalia It begins with the tragic muse Melpomene (played by the angel Azara), who enumerates the virtues of drama, which is to “soften the heart with tears and sighs.”Melpomene, styled in a quintessential diva’s gorgeous violet velvet and dramatic hairdo, is tragedy in music The opera that dominated this era of French opera.

Christopher Rousey conducts “Tully’s Day.” Photo by Jennifer Packard Photography.

Enter Tully (Paulina Francisco), a comedy muse with rainbow-colored hair and a studded pink leather jacket. She declares, “You offend love by making him look so angry!” Tully is the new guard, here to tell the sullen Melpomene that her opera is old-fashioned and irrelevant, Unlike Tully’s operatic ballet, which emerged in the late 17th century as a light-hearted, dance-filled alternative.

Apollo (Jonathan Woody) enters and challenges them to prove or disprove the virtues of comedy. After Melpomene leaves, Tully calls her ragtag group of singers and dancers to the stage to tell the story of “La Fille,” “La Veuve Coquette,” and “La Femme.” Three stories.

All three stories demonstrate, with varying degrees of success, the importance of comedy in opera, but the staging is secondary to the music. Conductor Christophe Rousset stole the show with his interpretation of this colorful score, vigorously directing the Lafayette Opera Orchestra in a work rarely heard since the 18th century. Opera Lafayette is at its best in the orchestra pit: their performances are rich, sumptuous, and underpinned by the use of classical instruments, including a harpsichord expertly conducted by Korneel Bernolet .

“La Fille” had the biggest laughs of the night.Delafont’s script boldly brings contemporary characters to the stage, although the production retains Thalia past firmly, first town A 1940s fever dream. Featuring a cast of sailors, “La Fille” tells the story of a daughter who is persuaded to marry her boyfriend only after he attempts to woo her mother. Revelry ensues, and while a classic comedy of errors, The Women is a melodically compelling production based on Patrick Kilbride’s flighty mother.

Delafont offers many opportunities for freedom and suggestion to the interpreter of his text, especially in the outstanding main course “La Veuve Coquette.” The film opens with the widow Isabelle (played by Pascal Bodin) wearing a 1930s-style fitted suit, riding boots and a whip, enjoying “the sweet freedom of a widower”, just like in “Rachel Weisz” Like Rachel Weisz. favorite and Katharine Hepburn in everything. The costume, designed by Marie Anne Chiment, suggests that the widow may not have had any attraction to men at all and was only happy in the company of her dear friend Doris (Angel Azara) , but the staging and characterization don’t hint at that, despite the obvious chemistry between the two. Confusingly, the work ends with Isabel’s suitor strolling arm in arm, rather than Isabel and Doris.

Scene from Tully’s Festival. Photo by Jennifer Packard Photography.

Although “La Veuve Coquette” has received a noncommittal interpretation ThaliaThe subtextual queerness of the dance is at its best in this scene. Choreographed by Anuradha Nehru and Pragnya Thamire, the five dancers bring a much-needed lightness and artistry to the work and capture Here comes the evening’s best interpretation of opera and ballet. The direction resists modernity but the dance embraces it, bringing the story to life with percussion and expressive Kuchipudi dance.

The rest of the evening saw another comedy of errors in “Women” – this time at a classical-era masquerade – before another brilliant debate among the muses in “Criticism” . Dances by members of the New York Baroque Dance Company and Karanshidi Dance Company are featured throughout. In addition to the artistry of music, words, and dance, Opera Lafayette’s meticulous attention to historical detail deserves praise and reading, especially the dramaturgy of Rebecca Harris-Warrick. Thaliacan be found on the show and on YouTube as part of the Lafayette Opera House Salon Series.

Thalia This is a great work, and in another era it would have been performed with a fuller complement of dancers and singers as its score and lyrics demanded, but this ensemble at the Lafayette Opera House has a character of its own .

Performance time: approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including 1 intermission.

Murray’s Thalia’s Festival Presented by Opera Lafayette at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater May 3-4, 2024. Thalia’s Festival There will be another show on Tuesday, May 7th at 6:00 pm at the El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue, New York City. A pre-concert discussion will be held at 5:00 pm at El Café. Tickets can be purchased here. The complete program is here.



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