In contrast to its reception in 1737, 'Castor et Pollux' enjoyed great success in 1754 and it was given regularly until 1755. It was revived again at court in November 1763, then at the Académie Royale de Musique from January 1764 (six months before the elderly Rameau’s death) until 1765, and continued to receive frequent performances from 1770 to 1782: eloquent testimony to its popularity. Thanks to the recent discovery of a manuscript close to the autograph that Rameau finalised in the last months of 1753, this second version of the work, with its tauter dramatic action, can now be heard in the pristine splendour and refinement of its orchestration. As a result the revised tragédie lyrique, unfairly overshadowed nowadays by the 1737 version, emerges in its full force and dramatic power under the inspired direction of Raphaël Pichon.
My first encounter with Rameau came when I was seven years old. The piano was predominant in musical life in the Soviet Union at the time but Johann Sebastian Bach was the only composer to represent the baroque era. Ever-present in concert halls, his compositions were also the daily bread of young pianists in music school. My first teacher had been born in Paris and had a deep knowledge and strong sense of French culture, especially French literature. Thanks to him, I in turn fell in love with France in general and Rameau in particular, and Rameau has stayed with me ever since. I have always kept him in a corner of my mind without ever being able to play his music in public, because unfortunately concert organisers, including in France, then as now prefer composers better known to the general public.
Making full use of Drottningholm Theatre's unique 17th century Baroque theatre machinery, as well as his deep creative understanding of the profound drama of the work, stage director Pierre Audi creates a production of Zoroastre that completely accords with the spirit of Rameau. True to the form of the tragédie lyrique, choreographer Amir Hosseinpour's dances perfectly match the weight and meaning of both plot and music. The ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, reinforced with musicians from the Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra and Chorus, is expertly and passionately led into the musical stratosphere by musical director Christophe Rousset. This intensely dramatic production is captured live in vibrant High Definition video and true surround sound.