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Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville was greatly admired in his day. His opera Titon et l’Aurore was one of his most popular works, being held up as a triumph over the rival Italian style during the Parisian Querelle des Bouffons in the 1750s. The narrative of this spectacular opéra-ballet follows the tumultuous and seemingly unbreakable liaison between the goddess L’Aurore and her lover the shepherd Titon. Jealous gods and goddesses try to interfere through murderous intent and dramatic abduction, but true love ultimately conquers all in stage director Basil Twist’s acclaimed feast for the senses.
This production of Mondonville’s Titon et l’Aurore was performed and recorded behind closed doors in the Salle Favart (Opéra Comique) during lockdown conditions in January 2021. Despite its initial popularity and numerous contemporary revivals, this is an opera that has received scant attention in the modern age.
Trained in France but also acclaimed in the US, puppeteer Basil Twist’s masterful staging brings statues, divinities, elements and natural phenomena to life on stage. This is accompanied by a typically impeccable performance by Les Arts Florissants under the direction of internationally renowned early music conductor William Christie, who returns to the Opéra Comique after an absence of six years; their collaboration making this production a delight for the eyes and ears.
With all live performances cancelled there was inevitably a limited critical response, but The New Yorker considered it ‘a delightful production…Christie conducts Les Arts Florissants in a graceful, buoyant performance, and the singers reflect his taste for compact voices, technical proficiency, and stylistic polish’. The blog Colleen’s Paris considered it ‘the most entertaining virtual event that I have seen… Very worth the watch!’
- Titon: Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor)
- L’Aurore: Gwendoline Blondeel (soprano)
- Palès: Emmanuelle De Negri (soprano)
- Éole: Marc Mauillon (bass-baritone)
- Amour: Julie Roset (soprano)
- Prométhée: Renato Dolcini (baritone)
Stage director, designer and puppet designer: Basil Twist
Video designer: Daniel Brodie
Lighting designer: Jean Kalman