Performing Rameau lecture
June 23 @ 10:00 am - 10:30 pm
I’m very excited indeed to be speaking at the Oxford International Conducting Institute Conference where I’ll be sharing my experiences preparing Rameau’s music for performance, and talking specifically about the performance practice issues involved when working with singers. Here’s my abstract:
Despite their popularity in France, the operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) have elsewhere stood somewhat apart from the main canon. Conducting two Rameau fully-staged productions during 2017 – Les fêtes d’Hébé (with L’Académie de l’Opéra national de Paris) and Dardanus (with English Touring Opera) – has therefore provided rare and fascinating opportunities to study and experience his music.
Particularly instructive has been the process of rehearsing singers and instrumentalists who are largely unfamiliar with a repertoire in which many questions arise over the most fundamental of issues: tempo and rubato, notation of a flexible rhythm, phrasing and articulation, ornaments and understanding the multi-layered librettos, to name but a few.
This paper will outline an approach to the distilling and communication of some of these complex Rameau-specific practices: what can be learned through the analysis of primary sources (scores and treatises); through the analysis of the music itself (metre, tonality, harmony, structure); and, most notably, through new ways of appreciating the idiosyncrasies of the libretto, its text and its versification. Through such a combination of performance and analysis, we hope to understand better these extraordinary and neglected products of the French Enlightenment.
Come along if you can!