8 november 2012

1754 opera set for modern premiere

Arts

Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau

The opera Anacréon will be performed in its entirety for the first time in over 250 years tomorrow (9 November 2012), after an Oxford University academic reconstructed Rameau's score.

Anacréon was composed by Jean-Philippe Rameau and first performed at Fontainebleu on 23 October 1754. Its hero is the Ancient Greek poet Anacreon.

The recital, which will be performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Sheldonian Theatre, has been organised by Oxford University’s Faculty of Music, Music at Oxford, St Hilda’s College and Magdalen College.

Dr Jonathan Williams of Oxford University's Faculty of Music and St Hilda's College brought together manuscripts scattered across Paris’ libraries to reconstruct the entire comic one-act opera.

The aim is to present, as far as is possible, Rameau’s final thoughts on the score

Dr Jonathan Williams

Dr Williams said: 'None of the sources of Anacréon is complete so reconstructing the score required quite a bit of detective work searching Parisian libraries and piecing together the music from various scores and parts. To further complicate matters the few sources that do survive originate from three different productions of two different versions of the opera!

'I filled in any missing music (in a style hopefully indistinguishable from that of the composer). The aim is to present, as far as is possible, Rameau’s final thoughts on the score.'

He added: 'Having spent a day rehearsing together, OAE and I are delighted with the result and are thrilled to be bringing Rameau’s wonderful music back to life.'

The performance, which also includes Vivaldi’s Gloria, takes place at 7.30pm on Friday 9 November, and ticket information for the Sheldonian Theatre performance can be found here.

Prior to the performance, a study afternoon is being organised by Oxford University’s Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD).

Dr Fiona Macintosh, APGRD director, said: 'We are delighted to invite people to join the UK's leading scholars as they explore this long-neglected work and its historical, literary, musical and dramatic contexts.'

The study day runs from 12pm to 6.30pm, with a harpsichord recital of Rameau's keyboard music in the Holywell Music Room in Oxford at 12.15pm.

The full programme can be viewed here.