Rameau: La Folie’s Aria, from Platee

Here is a bit of opera from the height of the French Baroque era.

Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée is a comic opera of high jinks among gods of Roman myth. In the opera, Jupiter decides to have some cruel fun with a prank on Platée, an ugly water nymph. Jupiter convinces Platée that he loves her and wants to marry her. Before the phony wedding, a character named La Folie (“Madness”) intrudes on the scene with a show-stopping aria. Warning Platée not to fall for Jupiter, La Folie tells the story of Daphne, a nymph whose romantic entanglement with Apollo ended with her transformation into a tree.

In this broadly acted concert performance, Mireille Delunsch sings her bravura piece while repeatedly brushing the conductor aside and otherwise displaying the mad whims of La Folie.

Performed by François le Roux (Momus), Mireille Delunsch (La Folie) and Les Musiciens du Louvre, conducted by Marc Minkowski (7 minutes)

Gilbert & Sullivan: “All Hail Great Judge” and The Judge’s Song, from Trial by Jury

A greeting for our judges today, wherever they may be!

Performed by Richard Alexander (The Usher), Anthony Warlow (The Learned Judge), the Chorus of Opera Australia Melbourne, and Orchestra Victoria, conducted by Andrew Greene. Directed by Stuart Maunder (6 minutes)

Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor, Sextet and Finale from Act II

Lucia loves Edgardo, but her treacherous brother Enrico has tricked her into believing that Edgardo is unfaithful. So Lucia reluctantly marries Arturo. Edgardo bursts into the wedding, but he is too late to prevent Lucia’s vows and he bitterly curses her.

The summary sounds like ridiculous, over-the-top melodrama–and it is! Few scenes in opera are better than this one for showing how grand opera can take a kernel of the ridiculous and make it blossom as something sublime.

Performed by Anna Netrebko (Lucia), Colin Lee (Arturo), Piotr Beczala (Edgardo), Mariusz Kwiecien (Enrico), Ildar Abdrazakov (Raimondo), and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (5 minutes)