University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Rameau: Le Temple de la Gloire

04/15/2018 1:00 pm
04/15/2018 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) is the greatest composer of the French baroque: certainly the greatest musical theorist of his day, and an opera composer to be reckoned with. He should rank alongside Bach and Handel in the pantheon of eighteenth century composers. Only in the past few decades of the later twentieth century and early twenty first century have Rameau's numerous lyric theaterworks received definitive recordings in historically-informed performance practice. I have broadcast as many of those recordings as I have come across. Le Temple de la Gloire (1745) was the first one I ever broadcast way back on Sunday, December 11, 1983.

Rameau collaborated with the greatest literary figure of the age: Voltaire, who was the librettist for "The Temple of Glory," which commemorates the French victory in the War of the Austrian Succession. In its purpose it parallels Handel's Occasional Oratorio of 1746, a similar celebratory piece for an English military victory. Rameau's "Glory" opera must have been a grand and glorious spectacle when it was privately performed for King Louis XV at Versailles, but at the public theater in Paris it was a flop because Voltaire's libretto, while it was full of highminded allegory and praise for the monarch, had virtually no love interest.

In my first broadcast of Le Temple de la Gloire I drew upon a CBS Masterworks release of this opera-ballet as interpreted by one of the pioneering figures in period instrument performance, Jean-Claude Malgoire, who led his own ensemble La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy. That recording has many cuts in Rameau's score, perhaps to accommodate it on two stereo LPs. This Sunday you get to hear this work in a much more complete form on two generously timed Ricercar compact discs. Guy van Waas directs the Chanber Chorus of Namur in Belgium and the period instrument ensemble Les Agrémens. The recording was made at Liege in Belgium in 2014 in collaboration with the Center for Baroque music of Versailles.

This is the Sunday when this program participates in Marathon 2018, our station's annual week of intensive on-air fundraising. In the course of the afternoon's broadcast I will be going on mike to urge you opera lovers to phone in your pledges of financial support for lyric theater programming on WWUH. Keep in mind the continuity of opera broadcasting here at 91.3 FM extending all the way back to 1970 with the broadcasts of my predecessor Joseph S. Terzo. Think also of the incredible variety of vocal arts recordings you have heard during my three decades-plus tenure in this timeslot. What more reason do you need to donate your dollars to WWUH's full spectrum concept of alternative radio?--and that includes plenty of classical music throughout the week, and opera, too, on Sundays. You faithful listeners have never failed to help us meet or even exceed our fundraising goals in Marathons past, so I thank you in advance for your generosity.