Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Courtly perfection

A benefactor of the arts has given the Brooklyn Academy of Music a wonderful 150th birthday gift. He's made possible the return of Les Arts Florissants' famous 1989 production of Lully's "Atys" (1676), the favorite opera of Louis XIV. The voices, opulent Comédie Française costumes

(ninety tall grey wigs were fashioned just for this revival!), the strangely awkward courtly ballet, dynamic and witty but never silly staging, and the perfect pace and modulations of William Christie... A thing of perfection. (It's available on DVD; above one of the loveliest scenes.) 'Tis almost enough to make me think it might be a good thing to have wealthy people kicking around after all, though I'm not ready to take the next step and praise the ancien régime.
(Images from Raoul Auger Feuillet's 1713 Choréographie)

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