Francis I, as a princely patron of the arts, realised that music was a very useful tool for his policy of prestige: Official music for great diplomatic events like the amazing musical ‘tournament’ between the Chapelle of the King of France and the Chapel Royal of Henry VIII of England at the Mass for the Field of the Cloth of Gold, reconstructed in this recording; but also more intimate music with the exceptionally subtle, refined and learned repertory to be heard in the monarch’s châteaux such as Chambord and Fontainebleau, performed by the finest singers and instrumentalists of the realm under the aegis of the Chambre du Roi. Here is a feast of previously unrecorded music for King Francis I, the symbol of a happy Renaissance.
Filmed in 1983, this DVD captures the Metropolitan Opera’s sweeping sets, its army of authentically costumed singers, and a cast of glowing soloists led by Plácido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Grace Bumbry and Nicolai Ghiaurov.
Verdi’s drama of private passions played out against a backdrop of intense political battles becomes extra vivid in this immense staging. This Met version, sung in Italian, includes the oft-omitted Fontainebleau scene, as well as the Prelude and Introduction.