The first collaboration ever between conductor William Christie and director Luc Bondy with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, this production of Hercules has been a major event. Hercules returns from the war with Iole, a princess he fell in love with. Mad with jealousy, Déjanire, his wife, ends up totally insane after poisoning her husband. Half theatrical performance, half secular oratorio, Hercules wasn’t originally meant to be performed in front of an audience. Luc Bondy chose to show the dramatis personae as ordinary people, victims of their passions. The superb Chorus of the Arts Florissants, both mediator and prosecutor, is the main witness of this tragedy of women’s jealousy.
Inspired by a fable by La Fontaine, Rameau produced perhaps his most brilliant music for his penultimate great work, blending reality and the surreal on several levels. This passionate new production by José Montalvo stunningly choreographed by Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu, sets new standards in entertainment, charm and ingenuity. The sharp and spectacular multimedia staging does full justice to Rameau's dazzling burlesque, confirming Olivier Rouvière's statement that ‘Les Paladins' is the last laugh of a witty 77-year old composer’. Recorded live in 2004 at the Paris Théâtre du Châtelet in true surround sound, both the virtuoso cast and Les Arts Florissants are in top form, clearly enjoying themselves in the masterful hands of William Christie.