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Three hours of fun from the Opéra Comique: Valérie Lesort’s production of Cavalli’s Ercole Amante is witty and stylishly extravagant – she has the knack of being tongue-in-cheek without belittling her material, and knows when to stop the gags and let the emotions shine through, (witness some sublime moments in the final act). The opera was created to celebrate the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660, but became so elaborate and overblown, including building a theatre specifically to stage it, that it didn’t premiere until 1662, by which point the newly- weds had already produced a son. The opera is long – their babysitter presumably hit double-time – but passes quickly. From the extravagant Prologue with the yawning chorus caught in the sun’s rays (Sun King, geddit?) it goes with a swing. Monsters abound, likewise deus ex machina, and the choreography is genuinely funny. The cast is excellent, likewise the chorus. Nahuel di Pierro’s luxurious bass rolls through Ercole’s lines. Anna Bonitatibus’ trenchant mezzo makes ease of Giunone, and Giuseppina Bridelli and Francesca Aspromonte sail gracefully through their roles of Deianira and Iole. Raphaël Pichon’s conducting is vigorous – at one point he hectors melodramatically from the pit – and he highlights the elaborate wind writing that pops out of Cavalli’s score.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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