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



Fantastic evening for a group of under 30s who really appreciate the opportunity this discount provided to experience high quality opera in a wonderful setting. The set was disconcerting at first, but an interesting interpretation with some impressive stage effects and some stunning costumes amongst the mix. The music and singing were wonderful throughout.
All 4 extremely grateful for the chance this under 30s scheme provides to visit Glyndebourne- long may it continue!

This is a rather morbid, sensationalist presentation that verged on bad taste. The music was impressive but the stage was disappointing alas, unlike the other performances this season. Perhaps the dead animal and human bodies hanging from the ceiling and the nudity and lingerie clad ladies could have been alluded to in your description so the audience know what to expect a little more - (at times it looked more like a M&S underwear advert than an opera)?

I knew that we were in for something special as soon as Hippolyte was being mentioned in the same breath as Rinaldo.This production was inspirational .The entire cast broke into spontaneous and prolonged applause for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment . All present were transformed by an evening of sublime performance. As Sarah Connolly descended into the pit (and hence Phaedra's doom) you could have heard a pin drop. It was a moment of magic. Juvenile nonsense? I think not. The New Generation audience present (8th August) and their reaction said it all. If there was ever a production to convert new followers - this was it. A request please. Rush out those fridge magnets! When we all venture into the world of our LECs and Zanuzzis in the dark of winter, the flickering lights of our decrepit machines will help us recall the underworld inhabited by Pluto, Tisiphone and the Fates.

I enjoyed the music and the singing very much- lovely! But the opening scene of what was supposed to be a tragedy was utterly misplaced. Were the dancers emerging from behind the sausages meant to be maggots? It drew laughs from the audience on the night that I attended, and I began to wonder if it was going to be a comic opera. The elegant 'Dresden china' Diana was so beautiful that she seemed at odds with the scene.
Fortunately, things got better visually, for a while at least. The scene like a doll's house view was, I thought, excellent, but I was disappointed with the final scene.
Although the dancing was accomplished, I had hoped to see some baroque dancing, being interested in historic dance.
However, I did enjoy the evening, but just wished that the visual aspect had been as good as the aural. I must say that my mental image of Diana's grove would have been very different!

It must be an oeful fridge for an egg to hatch but that said I am finding after more than half a dozen viewings of this that it is becoming an all time Glyndebourne favourite of mine. Simply delicious. May I add a word of appreciation of all the audiences to this that I have sat among. Utterly attentive and supremely polite always waiting until the curtain hits the stage before starting to clap so as not to spoil the effect of quiet endings.

Musically wonderful with very fine orchestra playing and singing. But why, why this production. It is not as if this was a frequently done opera which needed some new concept for production. And it is not that there were no clear indications of what staging was originally envisaged. Nor that this could not be done with modern technology even better than in the 18th century. There certainly is justification for some variation and cutting. But this production just seems to imply that without a lot of unrelated and comic spectacle this opera - this fine opera - could not be endured. An insult to the composer, the librettist and probably many of the audience. I suppose some people want mindless, distracting, amusing spectacle; but is that what Glyndebourne is for??

Right up there with Rinaldo for distracting, over-the-top, self-indulgent productions. Why should the wonderful "A La Chasse" be interrupted by the puerile intrusion of a hanging fox/Cupid? Why the chorus' singing come third or fourth to the gratuitous sight and sound of 'blood' dripping into buckets? Although hell was impressive, the negatives of the production outweighed the positives and frequently threatened to overwhelm the glorious music. But, as ever with (mostly) wondrous Glyndebourne, the singing was sensational all round, especially that of the (always) wondrous Sarah Connolly, and the orchestra was superb.

We came to Glyndebourne on a perfect day. The sun shone, our picnic was a delight and we found sufficient shade in the afternoon to be comfortable. As we had expected the playing of the OAE was outstanding and the singing of the principals, especially Sarah Connelly out of the top drawer.
However, we, like many, had reservations as to the sets- too clever by half!!

I was one of four friends who came to see this on Sunday 4th August. We had no pre-conceived ideas and none of us would claim serious opera knowledge. We were all blown away. We thought the whole experience wonderful and one of the best we have experienced anywhere. No matter that the story stretched credulity - the sets, staging, and costumes were fantastic as was the singing, acting and dance. As far as we were concerned this was all that opera is supposed to be all about: a great visual and audio experience. Sarah Connolly was outstanding. Thank you Glyndebourne.

A truly numb-bum experience. Unconvincing set, principals and no melodies. Left at the interval.

I can't believe the tone of some of the snottier earlier comments. I have been to Hippolyte twice and have seen it in the cinema. I loved it and had no problem with the production. I preferred it to the very stodgy production in Paris last year. The singing was wonderful, especially Sarah Connolly, Stephane Degout, Emma de Negri; which is not to say that I disregard the excellent contributions of Ed Lyon, Christiane Karg, Katherine Watson, Ana Quintans and Sam Boden.In addition Glyndebourne has a remarkably talented chorus. And of course watching William Christie in action is worth the price of admission. So thank you Glyndebourne for a special Hippolyte.e

I was apprehensive after seeing pictures of the fridge and reading about the mortuary. Actually the prologue in the fridge was most enjoyable. The hatching out of Cupid was brilliant and Diana looked superb in the ice box. The singing was very good and so was all the dancing, including the stripping in the prologue and the final hornpipe. The curving streams of bubbles in the tank were very impressive.
We did not like the blood smearing in the hunting scene. Pluto sang very well but the scene in Hell went on too long. My main criticism is that the music was rather repetitive and the opera needed shortening to increase its momentum, especially in the first half.
In conclusion, it was good, with some splendid parts and some dull. It was not a patch on the Handel operas or Marriage of Figaro.

The eclectic updating worked well. Singing outstanding especially Sarah Connolly and Ed Lyon. The ending was ambiguous and very moving

Only Glyndebourne could set a Greek tragedy in a fridge and get away with it!! I wept when Hyppilyte's drowned and was just as impressed with the chorus as the lead singers. The spiders blew me away with their talent and I have to say the 'fly king of the underworld' was my favourite character. Glyndebourne your costumes are unbelievable and breathtaking - this year we came with friends and they echoed our enjoyment and love of the whole evening from start to finish. Thank you for giving me such wonderful memories and experiences never to be forgotten.

Sublime (gorgeously coherent production, singing, music, sets, dance) but I did see it twice. It's extremely well thought-out and realised; so complex and so simple. Pre-publicity kept telling us it was based on Racine but it has almost no common ground with Racine. Where Racine builds to an unavoidable and complex tragedy affecting all the main characters, this is essentially entertainment with occasional hints of tragedy. There's no relief in Racine; H&A is almost all relief and tangents - and none the worse for that. I loved the modern-day overblown domestic excesses of the Prologue. It was like being present at a court entertainment where 18th century music and sensibilities were gorgeously presented in 21st century visual terms of reference. If you want to represent a bucolic arcadia with characters reclining on an enormous cartoon cabbage leaf and have broccoli spears coming down from heaven, well, why not? It worked. It never collapsed into bathos and it never undercut itself. It moved seamlessly from the light to the intense. Sometimes silence is a better reaction to a bravura aria than audience bravi. Phedre's act IV aria was breath-stoppingly powerful and almost met with complete audience silence (on my second visit). One of the great moments of this year's festival. The ending was truly affecting: from one fridge to another and hypnotic, stylised movement. Cupid's fate was a real surprise.

Musically, there are dullish bits early on and there's a lot of continuo but I think it goes into another gear from Act IV on (i.e. after the interval). The final hour is truly inspired. Surely, the hunters' scene (an extended divertissment) is musically one of the most ravishing in all opera. The chorus, the gorgeous rasping brass (making a rare appearance here in the score)...

Some opera houses are wary of upsetting their audiences with the types of production they commission. The Met is normally mentioned here as being conservative. Glyndebourne puts imaginative life into opera. It sometimes asks an audience to see things differently, afresh. The thought of Richard Jones and der Rosenkavalier (mentioned elsewhere on this page) fills me with joyous anticipation.

H&A at Glyndebourne is a great, culturally significant achievement.

Read many of the comments in advance so was a little apprehensive. Agree absolutely on the quality of music and singing. Not much I can add there. I found the production design less obtrusive than some commentators. Fridge concept was a bit odd. That said, it disappeared into the background for me. The human drama was compelling. Sarah Connolly had an authenticity that moved me beyond my expectations. The dance ensembles were well done, and I guess - for me at least - more interesting than in a traditional baroque alternative. The negative portrayal of the Diane cult suited me just fine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. Musically it was well up to Glyndebourne's high standards. Most of the dance scenes were stimulating. Particular praise should go to Jonathan Kent for having the nous to explain his design concept in the Programme. This helped me to understand and appreciate an unconventional and imaginative production.

What an exciting evening. We thought that last year's Fairie Queen was one of the finest productions we have seen at Glyndebourne (since 1955) until we came to see Hippolyte last week. Surprising, because we are Richard Strauss fanatics.

It was a brilliant idea to combine the elements of French baroque with some of the elements of modern pantomime, melding together fine voices with some clever dancing and colourful stagecraft.

To treat Greek legend seriously denies our imagination the opportunity to be inspired by some excellent singing, and a well-balance ensemble under the baton of William Christie. (The long recitative accompanied by flute and harpsichord was memorable.)

Good weather, good company and good opera. What more can you wish for at English summer festival time?

Musically faultless. Production, eccentric to say the least. We enjoyed the dancing though. We wonder what horrors Richard Jones has in mind for Rosenkavalier next season!

Probably the most appallingly bad opera production I have ever seen. Musically it was fine - I am a Rameau fan, and couldn't fault it in that respect - but the rest of it was juvenile nonsense. Indeed, it reminded me of any number of mediocre second-year students I came across when teaching at an art college: they think they are imaginative, but they are literal and unimaginative (Diana is cold, so make her live in a fridge with huge cheeses and vegetables); they think they are 'daring', but visualise eroticism as Marks & Spencer undies (can you get any sillier than that?). It's 2013? OK, so we must tick all the bureaucratic boxes which means we HAVE to show gay couples as well as hetero ones. I could not stay to the end of this catastrophe, and it's only the second time I have ever walked out before the end of an opera.

We found the singing and playing outstanding but sadly the production left us cold (no fridge pun intended) and confused, causing us to spent time trying to fathom out what was happening which then detracted from the music. A great shame as the opera should be better known.

We both enjoyed a superb performance - in particular the dancing, but also the magnificent singing by all. The orchestral playing brought vivid colours to the music and we were most impressed with the scoring - for example flutes and strings, and the teams of oboes and bassoons - we were very impressed by the way in which the conductor, orchestral musicians and singers brought this 18th C music to life - an unforgettable experience for us.

A mixed report. The sets were imaginative but too many changes. The singing was mixed - Theseus outstanding and the best, Aricie interesting, the chorus very good, but other soloists not first rate. The music was excellent. All in all we have seen two slightly disappointing productions this year (the other was Ariadne auf Naxos) and wonder about giving G a miss next year.

One of the highlights of recent years at Glyndebourne for me was the glorious production of The Fairy Queen. The same director's production of Hippolyte et Aricie was a great disappointment, especially after the excellent study morning on the opera last month. The only basic idea seemed to be 'the cool places' connected with the goddess Diana and one needed to read the director's explanation to realise this. It is difficult for a historicist production to 'surprise and delight' but, apart from elements of the first scene and the Hades scene, neither did this modernist production. The second half was tedious and depressing. I have nothing but praise for the OAE and William Christie and the superb singers, especially Sarah Connolly. Rameau's music was beautiful and dramatic, perfectly following the drama and words. I look forward to more Rameau or Jonathan Kent's amazing Fairy Queen.

We had some doubts when we read in the Times that the action would take place in and around a fridge but we had reason in the programme the thinking behind this setting. It worked out very well and we enjoyed all facets of the performance. It made a superb evening of opera. The audience agreed with us and gave all the performers the hugely appreciative applause that they all deserved. Congrats to Glyndebourne for a wonderful evening

As a 65 year old I ought to be a traditionalist but after coming to Glyndebourne for 15 years or so I am always amazed at how they can outdo the ridiculously over indulgently funded ROH. We watched this at Woking Cinema with a shamefully small audience (very poor publicity) and were staggered at the amazing setting, glorious music (orchestra of the age of!) and wonderful singing. What a joy ! Bah Humbug to the traditionalists ! Sarah Connoly's. act 4 aria was a triumph. As with Gulio Cesare last year Glynbourne continues to set the pace and outdistance the boring repeats thrust on us by ROH. We look forward greatly to Our annual visit this year to Don Pasquale......thank you Gus, bless you !

I came totally fresh to one of the live cinema screenings, knowing a little about the Baroque, but nothing of Rameau or this opera and I absolutely loved everything about it. Inventive, gripping, moving, wonderful dancing and sublime music. Maybe I'm vulgar and kitsch but I look forward to more collaborations between Jonathan Kent, Paul Black and the splendid performers. I couldn't disagree more with some of the negative comments above - but then I hated the WNO Lulu that so many of the critics raved about...

OK, so I watched the opera live yesterday and as a huge fan of this masterpiece my opinion is that neither last year's Haim's version in Paris, nor this one fulfilled my expectations. My personal opinion is that as the piece is a lyric tragedy, it requires some seriousness as the purpose of the opera is to be staged as a drama, not comical tragedy in weird fridge settings. I really enjoyed act 1 and 4, but the prologue and act 2 were overshadowed by the kitch setting, and I found quite weird how act 5 had awkward pauses. No doubt, the orchestra, cast (especially Connoly, Degout and Lyon)and dancers were magnificent, but the work would have touched people if aesthetics had been more seriously considered(not necessarily boring or predictable like Haim's version. Still, a quite interesting interpretation.

Quite frankly the worst production I've seen at Glyndebourne in 30 years of coming (I started young!) The singers were compromised because they could not see/hear properly because of the ridiculous staging being too high and far back up stage. Thank god for the adorable Sarah Connolly, the orchestra and the dancers, otherwise I'd have left during the second act rather than at the interval.

Come on Glyndebourne, take note of your audiences comments if you want us to pay top wack to see you productions, because they are starting to get tedious and silly for the sack of being silly. For example, the production of Rinaldo compromised the music dreadfully - why put really distracting stuff on stage just when the counter tenor had his only aria or when Handel's amazing harpsichord solo is played? Why make the forest in Hansel and Gretel look like a nuclear disaster area? Your Rakes Progress was fun, L'enfant was charming (the 1987 production was even lovelier). Directors like David McVicar take a classical setting and work their modern magic with lighting, props, acting, Loved Cesare, loved his Agrippina at ENO - more please!

Coming to Glyndebourne is a real treat, especially to see colleagues from old Conservatoire days, but sorry guys - I am now keeping a record of all the duff producers/directors you've had and won't be coming to any more productions by them.

The conducting, playing, singing and dancing were superb. The staging in Hades was acceptable, and the fly-costumed demons fine.

But the production as a whole was the silliest, most self-indulgent rubbish I have seen since your Rinaldo. Baroque opera deserves to be treated seriously. To guy it it is to treat the composer and audience with contempt. An example of the irresponsibility of the producer's approach: in the programme we are told that his intention was to make the conventional happy ending as sad as possible. What presumption! Respect for the intentions of the composer and librettist should be the first consideration of a producer.

I love Glyndebourne, but even love can be tested too far!

As big fans of baroque music we were really looking forward to this. We thought that musically the performance could not have better. We were a little puzzled by some of the sets, though the costumes were very imaginative, emphasising the divide between gods and mortals. Overall we would rather listen to it on CD next time!

Sheer bliss. After the less than satisfactory Ariadne I was delighted with all aspects of this performance. The singing, orchestral playing and production were all of the highest quality, but above all hats off to William Christie. It has been a long wait for Rameau to be performed at Glyndebourne, but hopefully this will not be just a one off. A wonderful evening.

WE enjoyed the whole afternoon in Glyndebourne very much indeed! Starting from the stroll in the garden at the perfect sunny day and then listening the perfect orchestra and very good singers. Especially the choir was very good!
Cannot say that it was my favourite style of music, find it a bit "constructural" but I enjoyed some pieces being quite melodic and dramatic. I also was amused by the novelty of directing work - I like experiments and creativity and I think it was good connection with our contemporary life. As even old "light" baroque play may give us lesson of life> Human nature is still the same :) Thank you, waiting for new experiments

The musicians were fabulous, but the production was nonsense and distracting, adding nothing to the evening!

Excellent musically and the performers did their very best to make sense of a rather tricksy, if sometimes amusing, production. I thought it just about worked in a somewhat over-complicated way, but something a bit more straightforward might have been better. My wife, however, was badly put off by the refrigerator, and even more by the deer corpses and blood all over the place. While it might technically be justifiable by Diana being the huntress goddess, this did not seem to be one of the brighter directorial ideas.

After the crits, I was expecting to be disappointed, at least in the production. Well, I understood what was going on linking the constructs of Rameau's period work with current entertainment 'needs'. and taking me out of the 'ordinary' and into the extra-ordinary. Thoroughly enjoyed, and installed in my memory bank of experiences to call upon again and again.

Overall an enjoyable experience. We have seen quite a number of "camped up" baroque operas especially at the ENO and quite enjoy the style of production. The plot in this case is a bit excessively intricate which makes the experience rather less straightforward than Handel but it was good nevertheless and excellently sung. I had some difficulty in understanding the fridge at the beginning (although it seemed in any case amusing and I get it now after patient explanation from my wife). I had more difficulty with the morgue at the end.

As irritated by Jonathan Kent's vulgar production as I expected to be. The music making was sublime, even when the director's insights seemed at odds with the intentions of the librettist ( camp sailors in Act 3?) Playing tragedy for laughs is never a good idea, still less is it witty and post-modern.All the plaudits go to Christie, Connolly and Ed Lyon, what a voice!
I assume the angry old man projected onto the curtain was Rameau himself, furious at what Kent had done to his masterpiece.

After the huge disappointment of the 'Ariadne auf Naxos' production, we now have a travesty of 'Hippolyte et Aricie'.
Has Glyndebourne lost the plot?

After all, what a wonderful opportunity this would have been to introduce a classic of the French Baroque, unfamiliar to the vast majority of the audience, in a traditional staging, capitalising on the superb musical talents on hand - of William Christie, the OAE and the extraordinarily strong cast of singers - and present the dance in original 18th century style.

There can be a far stronger rationale for 'giving a new twist' to a well-known opera. In this case, all the weird and wonderful - and often irrelevant and inconsistent - visual stimuli with which the audience is bombarded merely serve to distract from the music.

Why can the director get away with vandalising the intentions of the composer and librettist? The musical director would never dream of doing the equivalent to the musical content. This approach always makes me wonder if the director does not trust the composer (in which case, why take on the project?) - or does he have so little faith in the audience's ability to appreciate a work in a historically appropriate staging?

Let's hope that this isn't the start of a trend at Glyndebourne, one that will surely lead to the alienation of its core audience.

Overall I thought this production quite successful. Sarah Connolley was captivating and believable as a woman overcome with incestuous desires. She also proved that less is more, and the scene where she simply exits in silence down the stairs into the pit, is a reminder that we don't need lavish sets all the time and what matters is the presence and skill of the singer.

I thought the dance sections rather predictable and overtly commercial ( and I am a choreographer). The only dance scene that felt right was the lamentation in the morgue. The opening act/scene was a flesh fest of young bodies and rather off putting for that: but I was glad to be spared the usual S and M sea of latex which seems to blight so many of these 'up dated' productions. The dancers were wonderfully skilled however, but the dance seemed too busy against the already overwhelming sets and of course the music and singing.

The orchestra were fantastic but I had the misfortune to sit behind the rather unforgivably grumpy conductor who took great offence to some poor man coughing next to me.

The designer clearly had a conceptual through-line for the set and scenographic elements and of course it was beautiful and impressive, but somehow the only scenes that stay in my memory are the ones where simplicity reigned.

This was sheer joy! Glorious music and an absolutely superb performance. Fabulous singing from Sarah Connolly (as usual) and also the magnificent Stéphane Degout. William Christie must be the perfect conductor for this repertoire and the OAE the perfect orchestra. The whole evening was bliss, including the production.

What a wonderful, weird, appropriately inappropriate, shocking and fun production. I loved every minute of it. The music was so beautiful and the whole evening was just perfect. Jonathan Kent did absolutely the right thing to drag the piece out of the cobwebs, shake it down and give it back to us in a colourful, vibrant, intelligent and off-the-wall manner.

Un-missable - beautifully played, well sung and dramatically staged. My only quibble was the last act where the director was at odds with music and text.
But its a 'beg steal or borrow to get there' production

My party of 4 found the whole opera hard work and very hard to follow. The highlight of the evening was the Leith picnic in the garden and leaving without seeing the second half. It turned out to be a very expensive evening and not an enjoyable one.

I fully support the idea that the staging of Baroque operas can be flamboyant, exciting and a bit of a spectacle - as they would have been performed in the incredibley rich courts for which they were written. However, there is a thin line between magical and downright stupid, and Jonathan Kent has definitely crossed that line in this production. No continuity of set, serious lack of continuity in clothing and, my particular bete noir, this obsession with putting opera singers in little white frocks and bare feet! The only scene that worked in my opinion was Pluto's hell - extravagant costumes, great stage presence from the singers and an inventive set! Also a shame that the choreographer seemed to have written for a completely different piece of music in many parts. This along with dancers in their underwear, gratuitous breast-baring (nobody finds this shocking any more, leave it out please!), and an unexplained close up of some old man's head every time there was a scene change, made for a quite boring evening really.
No reflection on the orchestra or singers though, they were all top form, even if they were hampered by a stupid set design!

What a pity that a relativley rare opera cannot be staged traditionally.

In any case the staging should surely add to the music, not distract from it which this one did.

Musically, this was wonderful with William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment being outstanding.
The singers ,including the "stand-ins" were wonderful,too.

The transposition of the opera into a version of the 1960s was s distraction and added nothing to the story.Visually it was uninspired.It made an unhappy contrast to the "Ariadne" where it
was positive and not incongruous.

A exciting and daring production, as expected from Glyndebourne. Thank you for a delightful entertaining interpretation of baroque for our times. Orchestration, performers and staging were wonderful.

The Music was wonderful and the Orchestra and Conductor as usual outstanding---but the production did as someone else wittily put it leave us both cold and incredulous that anyone could dream up such sets and interpretation.We also contemplated going home after dinner but the last Acts were an improvement on the earlier ones except for the one set in Hell.
Having said that Glyndebourne as always was a splendid experience especially on a beautiful summers evening

We all agree that the orchestra and singing were magnificent, plot bonkers*, staging incomprehensible. I loved the music, others didn't. We were very pleased we went despite our reservations and bought the William Christie CDs of the piece afterwards which substantiated our view of the production.

*compared to Euripedes or even Racine

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

We welcome your comments on our site. Please note that Glyndebourne reserves the right to remove comments which are deemed inappropriate.

This question is to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Why is there a time limit?

Due to demand from other customers seats are reserved for a maximum of 20 minutes in order to allow you to complete your purchase. If the order has not been completed within this time, all seats will be removed from your basket.