Hippolyte et Aricie
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)
(Musical extracts used with kind permission of Warner Music)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“…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
18 May - 11 July 2013
19 May - 14 July 2013
29 June 2013
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
8 June - 2 August 2013
18 July - 24 August 2013
10 August - 25 August 2013