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date: 29 March 2020

Castor et Pollux (‘Castor and Pollux’)locked

  • Graham Sadler

Extract

(‘Castor and Pollux’)

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Philippe Rameau to a libretto by Pierre-Joseph Bernard; Paris, Opéra, 24 October 1737.

At its first appearance, Rameau’s third opera was only moderately successful. Audiences compared it unfavourably with Hippolyte et Aricie and Les Indes galantes which, though initially controversial, had by now gained support among open-minded operagoers. This cool reception explains the brevity of Castor’s first run – 21 performances compared with about 40 for Hippolyte and 64 for Les Indes – despite a distinguished cast including Tribou (Castor), Chassé de Chinais (Pollux), Pélissier (Telaira) and the dancers Sallé and Dupré.

Exceptionally, Castor had to wait 18 years for a revival: it reappeared in June 1754, at the height of the Querelle des Bouffons. This time the opera was ecstatically received: it was widely seen (with Platée, revived earlier that year) as a more effective counterblast to the Bouffonistes than any of the pro-French pamphlets. By the time it was revived again in ...

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