After 'Roland', 'Persée', 'Bellérophon' and, most recently, 'Phaéton', Christophe Rousset continues his revival of Lully's tragédies lyriques, written at the time of Louis XIV, with this performance of 'Amadis', one of the composer's finest scores: a masterpiece of French music, wonderfully balanced, extremely accomplished.
It was Louis XIV himself who asked Lully and his librettist Quinault to base an opera on Montalvo's early 16th C 'Amadís de Gaula', thus breaking with the usual mythological subjects and giving them an opportunity to change significantly the general intention of the tragédie lyrique genre. For the first time the prologue is closely linked to the main body of the work. The 'symphonic' pieces, supported by trumpets and kettledrums, are quite remarkable, especially the final chaconne, which is probably the finest in the whole of French opera. The arias are full of feeling, with the famous 'Bois épais', 'Tu me trahis, malheureux', 'Il m'appelle' moving constantly between heroic courage and the sadness caused by fearful love.
'Amadis', premièred in Paris in 1684, was performed constantly in the capital until 1772 and is here captured in a new recording from 4-6 July 2013 at the Opéra royal du Château de Versailles.