Foto Crédit: Edouard Brane
It is raining cats and dogs as I arrive in
. I have a date with Rossini a Napoli and Spinosi in Rennes Rennes for a rarely played work, written in 1816: Napoleon’s troops had left , the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV was back. His granddaughter, Maria Carolina, was to marry the Duke of Berry, and a cantata about a mythological theme had been ordered from Rossini for the celebration. For starters, Jean-Christophe Spinosi and the Ensemble Matheus offer the symphony number 82 by Joseph Haydn. It is the ideal overture for this marriage, playful and rhythmical. And Spinosi is Spinosi is Spinosi and when Spinosi is Spinosi, it’s party time. And there is dancing and playing and fun. Spinosi plays with Haydn, and with the public, with a three times announced and three times suspended final. He dances the score, plays percussion on music stands – and little by little, party mood grows in the house. No intermission, a little change in the placement of the music stands, and here the maestro is back. How strange, no music stands for the soloists, no stage for the choir? But the prelude of the cantata has begun, light, rhythmical, as Italian as one could wish for. The choir arrives and everything gets clear: the slightly unusual way the orchestra are dressed, with multicoloured dresses for the ladies, suit and tie for the gentlemen, the absence of music stands and stage. The choir arrives talking and laughing: yes, it’s party time, it’s a marriage! The choir members also are dressed for the party, individual and colourful. And the celebration follows the cantata’s course. Five excellent soloists take turns with the Ensemble Mélime(s), outstanding as usual, in celebrating the marriage of Teti and Peleo, Achilles’ parents, and of course representatives of the noble bride and groom. Five singers, young and fresh and spirited, with wonderful voices and a sense of the stage. No need to understand every word of the libretto, no need to know by heart every opera by Rossini to enjoy oneself like once the king of Naples : the acting of the soloists and Rossini’s music are doing their job. This is charming, entertaining, full of changes, arias, recitatives, ensembles, choirs are following each other, there is no time for boredom: Peleo (Sébastien Obrecht, tenor) and Teti (Marlène Assayag, soprano) are happy about their love and a bit afraid of the future. Aren’t the Furies already on their way to spoil everything? Jupiter (Xavier Mauconduit, tenor), Juno (Marianne Delacasagrande, mezzo-soprano), Ceres (Camille Poul, soprano), and a whole bunch of gods are descending from Naples Olympus in order to chase away the evil spirits and praise the young couple. Jupiter’s infidelities are well documented, and we recognize the Olympian lifestyle: Ceres and Juno are mad at each other, Jupiter is embarrassed, the bride and groom are in their own world, the choir affirms the God’s words of praise, whilst mocking their habits – this is a family party as it should be. It is a successful party, thanks to the impeccable singing of all the protagonists, the light and lightly ironic bel canto, and spirited and competent acting on the part of the soloists, the orchestra’s vigorous, nuanced and precise work. The artists have to repeat the furious final, before they are allowed to retire. As I leave the opera house, a setting sun is giving fiery highlights to the golden statues on the roof of the Parlement de Bretagne, a few rosy clouds are sailing through a blue sky over the white buildings – surely a last greeting from Jupiter. Grazie, Signor Rossini!