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Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Atys, a tragédie en musique, became known as the ‘king’s opera’ due to Louis XIV’s fondness for it. The work stands as a testament to the Sun King’s courtly refinement, as well as his moves to make France the centre of European artistic culture. The opera’s themes of romantic dilemmas and ultimate tragedy, set amidst the poetic atmosphere of Ovid’s classical mythology, create the perfect vehicle for a narrative filled with dramatic intensity combined with a myriad of moving and expressive arias and duets. William Christie conducts this acclaimed production – hailed by The New York Times as being ‘as satisfying as it is bold’.
This 2011 production of Lully’s Atys is a revival of the sensational 1987 staging of this previously neglected masterpiece. The original production with William Christie was part of celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the composer’s death, and the Opéra Comique remains proud of this 2011 revival of a historical spectacle which reflects its identity so well. In the January 2013 edition of Opera News this Atys was praised as a ‘2012 Favourite’ title.
The New York Times wrote: ‘Atys has made a welcome return to the Opéra Comique in a re-creation by the director Jean-Marie Villégier and the conductor William Christie of their 1987 production that captivated the operatic world… the stage picture is consistently opulent, with even Atys and Sangaride dressed ornately, at least until the shattering final act.’
Gramophone also praised the cast: ‘Bernard Richter finds plenty of passion as Atys... Emmanuelle de Negri catches perfectly the wistfulness of ‘Atys est trop heureux’. In smaller roles, all well taken, Paul Agnew and Sophie Daneman stand out. Chorus, orchestra and conductor are first-class.’