When the French early-music group Les Arts Florissants brings a staged opera to the Brooklyn Academy of Music it instantly becomes one of the season’s must-see events, and next month André Campra’s rare 1710 Les Fêtes Vénitiennes arrives in Robert Carsen’s gorgeous production. As a preview, “Trove Thursday” presents Campra’s first “hit” L’Europe Galante in a broadcast from Versailles’s Opéra Royal by Les Musiciens du Louvre conducted by Marc Minkowski.
After Lully died in 1687 a restlessness surfaced with the prevailing mode of tragédie lyrique, the long, serious form of opera that Lully helped create. Campra decisively struck out in a new direction in 1697 with L’Europe Galante and created the new genre of opéra-ballet. These lighter works consisted of a mythological prologue followed by several entrées, short self-contained, usually comic one-acts filled with dances.
After a prologue featuring Vénus, L’Europe’s four entrées provide a world tour: first, La France, followed by L’Espagne, L’Italie and La Turque. The public’s interest soon focused on all things Italian (verboten under Lully’s iron fist, although he himself was born in Florence) as one can see from the titles of Campra’s later La Carnaval de Venise (scheduled to be the centerpiece of next year’s Boston Early Music festival) and Les Fêtes Vénitiennes.
Campra: L’Europe Galante
Royal Opera, Versailles
Broadcast 13 June 1993
Vénus/Fleur Rose/Doris/Musicien: Jennifer Smith
Céphise/L’Espagnol: Sally Bradshaw
Grace: Julie Hassler
Berger: Sophie Jolice
Philene/Don Pedro: Jean-Paul Fouchécourt
Silvandre/Don Carlos: Laurent Naouri
Discorde: Philippe Huttenlocher
Ensemble Vocal Sagittarius
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Conductor: Marc Minkowski
“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player on their page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory. L’Europe Galante, last week’s Italiana with Teresa Berganza and all previous “Trove Thursday” fare are available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.