In his position as the king’s composer, Jean Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) created the opera Persée for Louis XIV. The opera was considered the crowning achievement of 17th century French music theatre and was widely recognized as Lully’s greatest work. Filled with dancing, fight scenes, monsters and special effects, this truly spectacular music drama recounts the thrilling story of Perseus, son of Zeus and heroic vanquisher of the snake-haired Gorgon Medusa. More than half a century after its premiere, Louis XV chose “Persée” to open the new Royal Opera House at the Chateau de Versailles, an event that formed part of the celebrations for the future Louis XVI’s marriage to Marie Antoinette. Recorded live at the Elgin Theatre, Toronto in April 2004, this staging is a dazzling spectacle of gods and goddesses, dancing scenes, flying machines and monsters with fight scenes and special effects inspired by designs from the original 17th century performance. The excellent singer-actors and the “Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir” are leading specialists in early music.
Few composers of any age have enjoyed the widespread admiration and unanimous praise of successive generations as Josquin Desprez. He is considered the greatest creator and innovator of musical composition during the Renaissance, and for some half a millennium his music has stood the test of time. He is remembered as much for his own works as for his lasting influence on those of his contemporaries and students, demonstrated in many of the compositions in tribute of 'the Master' featured in this programme. The programme's centrepiece is Jean Richafort's Requiem Mass, Missa pro defunctis, a tribute that employs several of Josquin's compositional devices.