Tragédie in five acts (1737)

Composer Jean-Philippe Rameau · Libretto by Pierre-Joseph Bernard Version of 1754
In French with German and English surtitles | New Production

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  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
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They are indeed not twins at all, although described as such because of they have the same mother – the mythological brothers Castor and Pollux. Not only do they have different fathers, one of them is mortal, the other not. Both love the same woman, Telaire. She reciprocates Castor’s feelings, those of the mortal. When he dies, Pollux is prepared to bring him back from the underworld because he loves his brother unconditionally. But the realm of the dead never relinquishes its inhabitants without demanding a costly price. Pollux must give up his immortality ...

Jean-Philippe Rameau’s tragédie en musique, first performed in 1737 at Paris’s Académie Royale de Musique, deals with life and death in such a daring way that at the end there is scarcely any boundary between the two. Astonishingly it is Telaire’s love and doubt that defies the revolutionary explosive charge of the brotherly love and cranks up the catastrophe. But with Jupiter’s intervention, both brothers become immortal and live on as a stellar constellation. Just as the boundary between life and death is no longer clear, from today’s point of view it is the genre boundaries that Rameau allows to blur. The piece jumps wildly to and fro and between singing and dancing and sounds out the rules of the stage anew. In 1754 it was precisely this point that Rameau intensified in the opera’s reworking, so that his opera was immensely transformed almost two decades after the world premiere. Rameau dispensed with many beautiful musical moments to add further facets to the material, which lets us experience Pollux in an entirely new light, having lost in his love for Telaire.

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