Video: Les Talens Lyriques Performs Bellerophon



The story of Bellerophon was a favorite opera subject from around the middle of the 17th through 18th centuries. It was produced in Naples, Venice, St. Petersburg, London, and Munich, to name a few.

The basic story, often adjusted to suit a particular opera libretto’s needs, centers on the Greek mythological hero Bellerophon, who is in love with Philonoë. However, the wife of King Proteus of Argos, Anteia, wants him all to herself.

Bellerophon rejects her and in a fit a rage, Anteia releases the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, body of goat, and serpent tail. Obliged to save the day (and in order to win the hand of Philonoë), Bellerophon goes after and slays the monster.

One of the more famous composers to set the story to music was Jean-Baptiste Lully, who collaborated with librettists Thomas Corneille and Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (after Hesiod’s Theogeny). It premiered on January 31, 1679, at the Paris Opéra.

The first complete modern performance of Lully’s Bellérophon only took place in mid-December of 2010. Until then it had not been heard since the 18th Century, when it was still fashionable for operas by Lully to be produced.

The December “premiere” took place at the Royal Opera of Versailles, performed by Les Talens Lyriques and Chamber Choir of Namur, directed by Christophe Rousset.

Watch (excerpt):

(N.B. Limited viewing, available only through mid-February, 2011)

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(photo: Les Talens Lyriques by Eric Larrayadieu)

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