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Work

Jean-Philippe Rameau

Jean-Philippe Rameau Composer

Pygmalion (acte de ballet)   

Performances: 5
Tracks: 15
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Musicology:
  • Pygmalion (acte de ballet)
    Year: 1748
    Genre: Ballet
    Pr. Instrument: Voice
    • 1.Ouverture
    • 2.Pigmalion: Fatal amour
    • 3.Céphise: Pigmalion, est-il possible
    • 4.Pigmalion: Que d'appas!
    • 5.La Statue s'anime, Pigmalion: Quel prodige!
    • 6.L'Amour: Du pouvoir de l'Amour
    • 7.Les Grâces instruisent la Statue
    • 8.Tambourin Choeur des peuples: Cédons, cédons à notre impatience
    • 9.Pigmalion, Choeur: L'Amour triomphe
    • 10.Pantomime: Deuxième pantomime
    • 11.Pigmalion: Règne, Amour
    • 12.Air gracieux: Ballet général
Rameau's Pygmalion was labeled an acte de ballet in its own time; it was the composer's first work to bear that designation. The term denoted a one-act opera with the usual solo numbers, duets, and choruses, interspersed with dance episodes and generally somewhat more pageant-like than plot-driven. It was composed in 1748 to a libretto by Ballot de Savot, an associate of the all-powerful court arts patron La Pouplinière. The story of Pygmalion dates back to Greek and Roman mythology; the sculptor of the title forswears marriage, but then falls in love with his own perfect representation of a woman, beseeching Aphrodite (or Venus) to bring her to life. In Rameau's hands, the story is a sunny romantic comedy. With several famous passages, such as a group of repeated notes in the overture that evoked the sound of the sculptor's chisel, Pygmalion become one of Rameau's best-loved works. The opera was performed 30 times in 1748 and was revived to rapturous acclaim three years later. Most significantly, it inspired a musical retort from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the philosopher and composer whose ideas were chipping away at the foundations of France's monarchical regime. Rousseau's Pygmalion, with its spoken dialogue, helped inspire the genre of melodrama and presented a darker view of the Pygmalion story and its attendant sexual politics. Thus Rameau's Pygmalion in a way has resonated, through Rousseau, George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, and the musical My Fair Lady, down to our own time. Long forgotten, Rameau's work itself has been recorded several times in recent years, notably by Les Arts Florissants and its conductor, William Christie.

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