Acante et Céphise [Acante et Céphise, ou La sympathie (‘Acante and Céphise, or Empathy’)]
- Graham Sadler
Pastorale-héroïque in three acts by Jean-Philippe Rameau to a libretto by Jean François Marmontel ; Paris, Opéra, 19 November 1751.
To protect Acante (haute-contre) and Céphise (soprano) from the menacing genie Oroès (bass), the fairy Zirphile (soprano) gives the lovers a talisman. This provides them with the telepathic power (‘la sympathie’ of the subtitle) to sense each other’s feelings even when separated. The work, which celebrated the Duke of Burgundy’s birth, includes more inventive music than such a puerile plot deserves, and incorporates the earliest surviving clarinet parts in French opera. The overture, a representation of the nation’s joy at the royal birth, uses cannon fire in its portrayal of fireworks....