Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville’s Titon et l’Aurore is another member of that rather long list of operas that were well received in their day and then totally disappeared from the rep. It’s interesting as an example of what was happening on the French opera stage between the retirement of Rameau and the revolution (it premiered in 1753) and because it played an important role in the “querelle des bouffons”.
Rewatching Le Grand Macabre after four years has rather changed my opinion. It still seems weird and sometimes hard to watch but I think I see a certain logic in it now that completely escaped me before. So the End of the World is approaching and all the Powers that Be can do is squabble, exchange scatological insults and get very, very drunk while the one sane (if rather weird) character (Gepopo) can’t find a language to communicate the enormity of what’s happening to them. Sound vaguely familiar? (Coincidentally, I’m writing this on the day that Andrew Scheer said that the Federal Government should give more heroin to the addicts in Alberta because otherwise they’ll get in a snit). Of course, in Ligeti’s version Death gets so drunk that he screws up terminating the space-time continuum but we probably won’t be so lucky. So yes the fart jokes and the raccoon on bins orchestra is still there but it now seems to me in service of something rather more profound than I previously gave it credit for. Also, Hannigan is not just brilliant vocally. It’s also, even by her standards, an amazing physical performance. (Original review under the cut).
It’s perhaps surprising that Lalo’s Le Roi d’Ys isn’t performed much more often than it is. Most people probably only know it for the tenor aria Vainement, ma bien-aimée which crops up from time to time in recitals and competitions. Sure, it’s not strikingly original. The plot is a love triangle with overlays of revenge and divine retribution and the music is, with the exception of the rather fine overture, a bit on the rumpty tumpty side. But, let’s face it, there are plenty of standard repertoire works with implausible romantic plots and banal, if tuneful, music. I think there’s a large section of the opera audience that would very much enjoy this piece.