Rameau’s deliciously exotic omnibus Les Indes Galantes receives new productions this fall in both Paris and Geneva so “Trove Thursday” previews its five discrete parts via a crazy-quilt spun from six different performances spanning 45 years—from 1974 to 2019!
Indes Galantes is one of Rameau’s most often performed and recorded works, but unlike Platée or Hippolyte et Aricie or Castor et Pollux, it isn’t a single unified piece but an opéra-ballet consisting of a prologue and several entrées or self-contained mini-operas.
When it premiered in 1735 as the composer’s second work for the stage, it included just two entrées but a third and then a fourth were soon added. However, one—Les Fleurs—proved controversial, so it was extensively revised. Today’s presentation includes both versions of Les Fleurs!
Alongside the legendary Aix-en-Provence Platée, Indes may be seen as having propelled Rameau’s 20th century rediscovery thanks to a lavishly mounted production at the Paris Opéra.
It was so popular it was performed over 200 times over the next thirteen years and at some point starred many French singers whom one might never have expected to hear an early 18th century work: Jacqueline Brumaire, Guy Chauvet. Suzanne Sarroca, José Luccioni, Denise Duval and Raoul Jobin among many many others.
Extended highlights of the Paris Indes in its 20th century reorchestrations by Paul Dukas and Henri Busser were recorded in 1954. It features one of the oddest transpositions in performances of baroque music of that era: Rita Gorr performs the bass role of Bellone in the prologue!
The US premiere of Indes Galantes was given by the Clarion Society in 1961 featuring Judith Raskin and George Shirley. Two slices of Indes were the first Rameau I ever heard live when I caught a staging in 1982 by Concert Royal and the New York Baroque Dance Company of the prologue and Les Incas de Pérou.
James Richman and his Concert Royal would go on to do lovely versions I attended of Hippolyte, Castor, Pygmalion and La Temple de la Gloire sometimes in conjunction with his wife Catherine Turocy’s dance group.
In a remarkable coincidence the day after the Indes, I attended the US premiere and to date only performance in this country of Rameau’s final masterpiece Les Boréades at Town Hall with Ruth Welting as Alphise.
As one travels through these six broadcasts, one can hear how French baroque performing practices have evolved since the 1970s. The Malgoire Turc will no doubt sound a bit primitive but his dedication to this repertoire led the way for many who followed.
Americans Bruce Brewer and Gregory Reinhart were important figures in many Rameau performances in France and elsewhere during the 70s and 80s. I’ve included the prologue from Boston Baroque to demonstrate that Rameau isn’t entirely ignored in the US.
But it’s especially splendid news that Trinity Baroque will be staging Dardanus, the rarest of Rameau’s early tragedies lyriques, in June 2020 conducted by Julian Wachner and featuring American tenor Zachary Wilder in the title role.
In addition to the Paris and Geneva productions, Indes will also be performed in concert at Versailles led by young conductor Valentin Tournet whose performance of Les Sauvages, the final entrée, from this summer is included today.
Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Prologue
Jordan Hall, Boston
Hébé — Amanda Forsythe
L’Amour — Nathalie Paulin
Bellone — Sumner Thompson
Boston Baroque Orchestra and Chorus
Conductor — Martin Pearlman
Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Le Turc Généreux
Banqueting House, Whitehall, London
22 April 1974
Emilie – Felicity Palmer
Val?re – Bruce Brewer
Osman – Pierre-Yves le Maigat
Conductor – Jean-Claude Malgoire
Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Les Incas de Pérou
Theatre de Chatelet, Paris
Phani — Sandra Browne
Don Carlos — Gerard Garino
Huascar — Gregory Reinhart
Choeur & Orchestre de la Chappelle Royale
Conductor — Philippe Herreweghe
Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Les Fleurs
15 May 2010
Zaïre — Nicola Wemyss
Fatime — Stéphanie Revidat
Tacmas — Anders J. Dahlin
Ali — David Wilson-Johnson
Orchestra of the 18th Century & Cappella Amsterdam
Conductor — Frans Brüggen
Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Les Fleurs (revised)
4 March 2014
Fatime — Amel Brahim-Djelloul
Roxane — Hélène Le Corre
Atalide — Judith van Wanroij
Tacmas — Anders J. Dahlin
Les Talens Lyriques:
Choeur de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux
Conductor — Christophe Rousset
Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Les Sauvages
26 July 2019
Damon — Philippe Talbot
Alvar — Luigi De Donato
Adario — Guillaume Andrieux
La Chapelle Harmonique Choir and Orchestra.
Conductor — Valentin Tournet
Each of the six parts of Indes can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.
In addition, more than 260 other podcast tracks are always available from iTunes for free, or via any RSS reader. The archive which lists all “Trove Thursday” offerings in alphabetical order by composer has been recently updated.