Jean-Philippe Rameau

Hippolyte et Aricie

29 June - 18 August 2013
Festival 2013

Watch the repeat of our stream online now

When Rameau died in 1764, the Mercure de France concluded its epitaph to him with the words ‘Here lies the God of Harmony’. In many ways he defined 18th-century French music, publishing his widely influential Treaty on Harmony in 1722. He was known as the leading music theorist of his time and as the composer of numerous works for the keyboard before he made a thrilling late career shift and turned his hand to opera.

Hippolyte et Aricie was Rameau’s first work for the stage, written when he was nearly 50. It is also Glyndebourne’s first opera by Rameau and will strike audiences, as it did in Paris in 1733, with its richness of invention.

This production reunites the team who created such a dazzling entertainment with Purcell’s The Fairy Queen: conductor William Christie (Jonathan Cohen August 4, 8, 13, 18), a leading exponent of the Baroque repertoire, director Jonathan Kent and designer Paul Brown. They are joined by choreographer Ashley Page making his Glyndebourne debut. Dance is integral to this opera, acting as a counterpoint to the unfolding story of a woman who falls in love with her stepson, a man who jumps to the wrong conclusions and is pursued by fate, and the uncertain destiny of two young lovers.

Rameau drew on ancient Greek tragedy and 17th-century classical French drama to create a version of the story of Theseus, Phaedra and Hippolytus that is his own unique construct.

In a welcome return to Glyndebourne, the pivotal role of Phèdre is performed by Sarah Connolly.

Listen to Hippolyte et Aricie podcast (24 mins) 

Live broadcast to cinemas and online on 25 July 2013, venues and booking details available on the 'In Cinemas' tab.

A new production for the 2013 Festival
Sung in French with English supertitles

Supported by Carol & Paul Collins through Glyndebourne Association America Inc

Edition realised by William Christie and Les Art Florissants


Diana, chaste goddess of the moon and the hunt, and Cupid, god of love, argue over who will dominate. Their quarrel is settled by Jupiter, who decrees that love will rule over all hearts for one day every year. Diana vows to protect the mortals Hippolytus (Hippolyte) and Aricia (Aricie).

Act I

Hippolytus is in love with a young woman, Aricia, the daughter of Pallas, the enemy of his father Theseus (Thésée), King of Athens. Pallas compels Aricia to take a vow of chastity to Diana. Before she does so, Hippolytus reveals his love for Aricia and Diana promises to protect the couple. This enrages Phaedra (Phèdre), Queen of Athens, who harbours an illicit love for Hippolytus, her stepson. News arrives that her husband Theseus is dead. Phaedra may now pursue her passion for Hippolyte and offer him the crown of Athens.

Act II

Neptune, father of Theseus, has promised to answer his son’s prayers three times during his life. Theseus’s first prayer is to reach Hades safely, where he hopes to rescue his friend   Pirithous. Theseus fights with the Fury Tisiphone, but successfully reaches Pluto's court. Pluto condemns Theseus to share the fate of his friend Pirithous, but allows him a trial. When Theseus loses, he prays a second time to Neptune, and Pluto is powerless to hold him. As Theseus is leaving, however, the Furies (Les Parques) predict that though he may leave Hades, he will find Hell in his own home.


Phaedra meets Hippolytus, who offers her his condolences on the death of Theseus. Mistaking his concern for love, Phaedra confesses her passion to him. Hippolytus is shocked and curses her. Phaedra tries to kill herself but Hippolytus prevents it. Theseus arrives unexpectedly. Unsure what to make of the scene, he accuses Hippolytus of trying to rape Phaedra. Phaedra rushes off and Hippolytus nobly refuses to denounce his stepmother. Theseus decides to use his last prayer to Neptune to punish Hippolytus.

Act IV

Hippolytus and Aricia have escaped together to Diana’s realm. A monster suddenly emerges from the sea to punish Hippolytus. He tries to fight it and is defeated. Phaedra confesses her guilt for Hippolytus's death. 

Act V

Theseus learns the truth from Phaedra, who takes her own life. Theseus too threatens suicide but Neptune reveals that Hippolytus is still alive, thanks to Diana's protection. But for unjustly blaming his son, Theseus is condemned never to see him again.

In Diana’s realm, the goddess reunites Hippolytus and Aricia. 

Creative team

Conductor William Christie
Jonathan Cohen (4, 8, 13, 18 August)
Director Jonathan Kent
Designer Paul Brown
Lighting Designer Mark Henderson
Choreographer Ashley Page
Video Designer Nina Dunn 


Hippolytus Ed Lyon
Aricia Christiane Karg
Phaedre Sarah Connolly
Theseus Stéphane Degout
Diana Katherine Watson
Pluto/Jupiter/Neptune François Lis
Œnone Julie Pasturaud
Mercury Samuel Boden
Arcas/Second Fate Aimery Lefèvre
Tisiphone Loïc Felix
Cupid/A female sailor Ana Quintans
High Priestess/Huntress Emmanuelle de Negri
Follower of Cupid/First Fate Mathias Vidal
Third Fate Callum Thorpe
Priestess Charlotte Beament
Hunter Timothy Dickinson

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Diana (Katherine Watson) Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Cupid (Ana Quintans) Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Prologue scene. Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Phaedra (Sarah Connolly). Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Prologue scene. Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Aricia (Christiane Karg) Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013.  Pluto (François Lis) and Tisiphone (Loïc Felix). Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Act II scene. Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Phaedra (Sarah Connolly) and Hippolytus (Ed Lyon). Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Hippolytus (Ed Lyon). Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Prologue scene. Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Act IV scene. Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Act IV scene. Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Neptune (François Lis) and Theseus (Stéphane Degout). Photo credit Bill Cooper.
Glyndebourne Festival 2013. Hippolytus (Ed Lyon) and Aricia (Christiane Karg) with Diana (Katherine Watson). Photo credit Bill C

“…a glorious production”
Rated 5* by What's on Stage

“Few nights at the opera will be as rewarding as this one.”
Rated 4* by The Arts Desk

"Rameau’s music is one reason to hasten to East Sussex. Another is Jonathan Kent’s inventive staging.”
Rated 4* by The Times

“Sarah Connolly combines a luscious voice and volcanic stage presence as Phaedra, and her climactic outpouring of despair in Act 4 is scalp-prickling.”
Rated 4* by Bloomberg



Witty setting! I was puzzled initially by the reverse side of the frig.

Costumes imaginative, but at times confusing.

I loved Sarah Connolly's singingand the orchestra was excellent.

I do think it is a work that needs pruning. I know it was ususal to have ballet interludes in the eighteenth century, but they were a little too long

The opera seems unsure as to whether it is concerned mainly with Hippolyte, or Phedre, or even Theseus,and the finale in the morgue is baffling. The end comes suddenly, hence the silence of the audience which was uncertain what happened next.

Forget the plot - it's impenetrable. Suspend reality for a few hours, and enjoy the whacky, funny staging, the terrific music, singing and dancing. Simply enjoy this wonderful setting of Rameau's masterpiece. Thank you Glyndebourne, William Chrisite, the OAE, cast and chorus for a great entertainment.

We absolutely loved the first act of Hippolyte et Aricie, enjoying the production and the glorious music, singing and dancing (though less keen on the unnecessary wallowing in the gore). Act Two was less successful, in particular the ending when the director seemed to be trying to achieve a different resolution to that of the composer/librettist. While one may prefer the original tragic conclusion, reducing the supertitles to a minimum and having the dancers act out one's prefered version is simply disrespectful - if you choose to do Rameau, then do Rameau!
Among the excellent singers Sarah Connolly stood out, and of the production the sets (particularly the fridge and the house)and the costumes were fantastic - the dancing flies evoked the Baroque brilliantly.

Because the direction dictated the need for closed eyes to enjoy the music, voices, and inspired conducting by WC, I missed out on the surtitles but glimpsed the sumptuous costumes. Nowadays people do go to weddings in black but normally wear shoes.
JK should test his ideas suspended from an invisible platform?
Choreography demeaned the talent of the dancers.
Rameau is turning in his grave ... will check later!

Sunday 7 July. Having also seen last year’s completely opposite production of this rare “Hippolyte et Aricie” at the Paris Opera (a sumptuous 18th century staging) I can say that both options for such a piece of work are perfectly suitable and complement each other: if you like Stanley Kubrick, would you prefer “Barry Lindon” or “Clockwork Orange”? I think you would like equally the two aspects of a unique artist.
Same with Rameau: one can enjoy a contemporary (re)interpretation of French baroque opera as Glyndebourne offers (that probably would help non-French speaking audience thanks to its visual effects and its sense of humour) and one can equally enjoy a more “dans son jus” vision of what a performance might have been at Rameau’s time.
Part of the cast was common to both productions (Sarah Conolly, Stéphane Degout). In both cases, highest quality in singing and in orchestral playing.
Definitely impossible to choose between two visions, but why should we? Just discover and enjoy this music equal to Haendel’s, in outstanding conditions (as is always the case at Glyndebourne)!

Faith restored.After the horrors of Ariadne we were able to leave Glyndebourne on a high, full of enthusiasm for all we had seen and heard. A wonderful orchestra and excellent cast complemented by a splendidly zany production. For us Francois Lis gave a standout performance.

HIPPOLYTE. The music was superb, the orchestra was superb, and the singers were superb. But the set "left me cold"!!!

Just fabulous! Although it was all brilliant for me the big prize should go to the costumes.

Sunday 7 July - Highly imaginative production that helps bring this opera to life - the chorus are seen and heard at their magnificent best, ably supporting a strong body of soloists, but also well able to hold their own - and didn't they just!
This production might be quirky (to some) but it works and the whole drama is gripping from begining to end - I am so pleased that I will be getting a second opportunity to enjoy this stunning opera, I can only hope that the weather in two weeks time is as brilliant.

I was in a minority in our party by enjoying the production. I gave up trying to "understand" the producer early on and let it wash over me and turned my attention to the wonderful music and in particular Sarah Connelly

This production appears to have attracted some negative publicity, although the singing, orchestra and music have been complimented. I agree that the singing and orchestra were superb but also think the production was excellent and struck a clever balance maintaining a serious undertone for what is a serious work but adding an amusing spectacle alongside and in harmony which was appropriate for the 21st century. I had not heard Rameau opera before but found the whole experience memorably delightful. Well done! We'll be back for the revival!

Excellent singing and playing, but oh, the production.... It was billed as a witty fresh take on French baroque opera. Unfortunately it seemed to me to be not remotely witty. Some parts were excruciating. And this so soon after Ariadne, another opera brilliantly played and sung but with a bewildering production.

We thought the music was superb and well played. The voices were very good, particularly Hippolyte's father. The plot was tedious. There was too much dancing - I realise you cannot do much about this.

My first visit to Glyndebourne and to Europe in the summer was to see this opera.
It was worth the trip.
I knew I would never see it in San Francisco

Enjoyed the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - also Sarah Connolly. Some lovely solos. The opera felt rather long and the sets unnecessarily elaborate. I should think that those who had not done their homework on the story would have been thoroughly confused. The dances were quite amusing, the bugs quite attractive, the sailors extremely unattractive. It did not hold together for me. The ending in the morgue also rather strange.

I thought the set for Hippolyte et Aricie completely bonkers until I read the notes in the programme. I knew nothing of the opera but knew I liked the music of Rameau. I was not disappointed: the set was intriguing and inspired - the ice box for cold Diana; (I was less enamoured of the game larder though "got it".. ) I loved the sailors 'hornpiping' - a good Neptune ref. And I loved the retro 18th century hunters, and the flies and spiders behind the 'fridge. It was interesting and fun; plenty for eye as well as ear.

Although I have been to more than 100 operas from Purcell to Birtwhistle this is the first time that I have walked out at half time. I found the music and libretto uninspired. I can understand the difficulty of putting it on stage but I found the production ineffably silly. The contrast with Gloriana which I had seen at the ROH the previous week was marked. That production which was also a challenge to do seemed to me very witty.

Sorry to be so negative. Perhaps it was just not the right day for me.

Having loved the Fairy Queen, we had high hopes of Hippolyte et Aricie, especially with William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Possibly helped by our second row seats, last Wednesday's Hippolyte et Aricie, but we were thrilled. We absolutely loved it. All of it. Willaim Christie, Rameau's music including the continuo and the flautists, the set designs, the soloists, chorus, choreography and the dancers, lighting, everything.

Very well done to the whole team.

This was either a worthy attempt or a misguided effort to make Rameau acceptable to a Glyndebourne audience. I believe it was the latter.

The performance was spectacular, but was it opera, ballet or a musical? The costumes were truly sensational, the music beautifully played, the staging glorious, only the surtitles were sparse almost beyond imagination.

Saw Hippolyte et Aricie last evening and loved it. Wonderful production - great fun and tragic as well. When will it be on DVD or Blueray please? I will buy it as soon as it is released.

Hippolyte et Aricie was wonderful. What a fine tribute to Rameau. The hunting scene, with all those braying horns, followed by Phèdre's lament proved a fitting climax to the tragic section of this opera. William Christie has done it again at Glyndebourne and this beats most things I have seen on the stages in London this year. I remember also with great affecrion his Rodelinda, Fairy Queen and Giulio Cesare - the latter with the magnificent Sarah Connolly (who was Phèdre tonight Wednesday 3 June).

Rameau's music is sublime, the artist's singing superb, and the chorus - excellent by why spoil it with a production which detracted rather than enhance the experience. This is not the first time we have been to a Kent production but we both feel it will be the last when he has anyhting to do with it. Unfortunately we felt the same with his production of "The Fairy Queen" a few years ago with his duracell bunnies prancing around the stage. Please let the music and singing speak for themselves without all the strange settings in fridges and morgues.

What a tiresome production, the only element of which that succeeded was in Hades. The singing and playing of the music were of high quality.

Having seen one of the best Falstaffs ever we thought H&A might be an anticlimax.Not so- It was a triumph ! Brilliant staging , costumes and lighting enhanced the AoE and William's conducting. Sarah Connolly's superbly sung aria in Act 4 was all the more dramatic with her walk on and off stage.
To transcend even this Albert Roux was there to welcome us and to say goodbye after a delicious dinner in the newly restyled Middle and Over. Quite superb. Jonathan Kent, Paul Brown and all Thank you !

I enjoyed the excellent singing and the marvellous musicianship of the OAE under William Christie. However, the production was largely not to my taste. I fear the worst when directors talk about bringing baroque opera 'up to date'. To my mind this implies a certain contempt for the audience by treating them as unable to handle 18th century opera seria. Exactly, the same assumptions were at work a couple of years ago in the awful attempt to locate Rinaldo in a modern girls' school. Why use modern settings [as in the refrigerator, bedroom and morgue scenes]? By contrast, I thought the scene in hell with Pluto was for more appropriate to a baroque opera. So I beg Glyndebourne to avoid recruiting directors like this who favour German style 'konzept' productions.

My wife and I were really impressed by how good this production was. The sets were stunning throughout, the singing was wonderful and the orchestra's interpretation of the Baroque music was excellent. As usual Glyndebourne was innovative and the whole evening was a pleasure.

The story of Phaedra is in Euripides and Racine a tragedy and Rameau's opera is too, except for the happy ending to please the French punters of the time. Why on earth play it as a farce? I agree with the review in the Telegraph. The music and singing was fine but I don't wish to pay good money to go to a performance of an opera where I have to keep my eyes shut? A miserable evening for me.

Wonderful music, superbly performed. However the production was incongruous and one wonders whether the producer and the designer are familiar with Rameau and his music and whether they were compos mentis when they dreamt up such a kitsch production. A pity, as they did a disservice to the composer, to the magnificent performers, to the conductor and to the orchestra.

What a day! perfect Glyndebourne weather, a fascinating,enlightening study day and the opera itself.
Musically sublime. An example of the Glyndebourne effect at its best. 12 weeks immersed with William Christie, the language of native french singers, and all the niceties of Rameau paid off in a sumptuous confection which was far greater than the sum of all its parts, wonderful though those individual singers and players might be.
One day I may get to see a baroque production of this piece, but I am mightily glad to have witnessed Mr Kent's interpretation as I really don't know enough yet about the baroque to appreciate the former.
Just loved the prologue (set in a french 'fridge) and to turn the whole thing round to the back of the 'fridge for Hades was sheer genius.
My only negative was that I rather wanted (and expected)a real monster!!

William Christie clearly in his element. Very glad to have heard him conduct this. The production however is a little surreal. Maybe a bit of a curate's egg.

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