Les Plaisirs de Versailles
A Royal Soirée in Versailles
Dušní/U Milosrdných, Prague – Old Town
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704)
Les Plaisirs de Versailles (1682)
François Colin de Blamont (1690–1760)
Le Retour des dieux sur la terre (1725), modern premiere
Scores of Les Plaisirs de Versailles realized by Fannie Vernaz (Édition des Abbesses), scores of Le Retour des dieux sur la terre realized by Nicolas Sceaux for Centre de musique baroque de Versailles – reconstruction of the missing parts by Benoît Dratwicki.
The final concert of the festival will give the audience a glimpse into the rooms of perhaps the world’s most famous palace, which gave rise to the richest and most diverse musical repertoire of all the European royal residences of the 17th and 18th centuries. Early on, Louis XIV established a tradition of regular entertainment evenings in Versailles for selected members of the highest aristocracy. This musical “torch” was passed from the Sun King to the wife of Louis XV, Marie Leszczyńska, and would thereafter be imitated not only in France, but throughout Europe.
At concerts held in the king’s or queen’s salons, the nobility also watched so-called divertissements, small operas in concert performance. Both in Les Plaisirs de Versailles by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1682) and in Le Retour des dieux sur la terre by François Colin de Blamont (1725), there are a number of allegorical figures who, along with mythological deities, chant to the glory of – whom other than – the king. This Prague performance – by seven soloists and Collegium Marianum, the festival’s ensemble in residence under the direction of Jana Semerádová – is a modern-day premiere of Blamont’s work and will bring the festival programme ceremoniously to a close.
The project is part of a long-term collaboration with the prestigious Centre de musique baroque de Versailles and the French Institute in Prague.
Les Pleasures of Versailles
After an introductory three-part overture, Music enters the scene and invites the eternal gods and mortals alike to honour and enjoy her enchanting harmonies, much like the “ruler with the fleur-de-lis”. However, she is interrupted by Conversation, which does what comes naturally to her – she speaks. Music is of course highly displeased by this. Comus, the god of banquets, intervenes in their quarrelsome dispute and tries to mollify them with chocolate, wine, and sweets. Alas, his efforts are to no avail, as is the suggestion of another allegorical character, Game, to focus on playing cards and other gambling games. This apparently hopeless situation is nonetheless harmoniously resolved, as the ultimate mission of all involved is to cheer up the sovereign! And so, all the characters laugh together at their silly quarrels and hope that the King will do the same.
Le Retour des dieux sur la terre
This work consists of five parts and opens with an overture and prelude, the subtle harmonies of which enchant the Nymph of the Seine and convince her that the gods will soon return to Earth. Astrée confirms that literally the whole world is rejoicing, and together with the Nymph and the shepherds pays tribute to King Louis: “How sweet it is to live in this rich country, how sweet to obey Louis’s orders!” To the sound of a majestic prelude, Minerva descends from heaven and sings in praise of the royal couple. Apollo, followed by the Geniuses of Art, rejoices along with the others in the rebirth of the arts. As proof Music arrives with Poetry, and they pay homage to the rulers and prophesy their own happiness under the rule of such virtuous sovereigns. Finally, to the sound of fanfares, Love herself descends and joins the other deities.
Dušní/U Milosrdných, Prague – Old TownShow on map
Partners of the concert
In co-production with the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles
and with the kind support of the French Institute in Prague.