|Photo: Atys, by Pierre Grosbois|
The reason was largely conductor William Christie and his nimble period band, Les Arts Florissants. Balanced perfectly between scholarly historian and laissez faire musical poet, Christie is a craftsman of furious elegance. Ask him to muse over Lully's original manuscripts in the Bibliothèque de l'Opéra de Paris and he will, but then cock an eyebrow when he confesses that the notion of authenticity—a buzzword for early-music types—is "really a rather silly idea." In other words, Christie is refreshingly pragmatic, never pedantic. Attending one of his performances is like being at a refined courtly happening at which everyone knows that everyone else is naked under their clothes. Or imagine an elegant Parisian library in which 17th century treatises come to life and get tipsy together behind the librarian's back. That’s Christie’s sound. Sensuality within studied order. Please go see Atys.
I wish I could tell you to see the Atys gala as well, but I can't; regrettably, it's sold out. But consider that a good thing, since there are 16 months of anniversary celebrations left to go, and it would be a shame to get winded after just the first week. That said, the gala—which features a celebratory dinner with Christie and members of the Atys cast following the Sunday performance—does mark the official beginning of our 150th anniversary celebrations, and suffice it to say that it, too, will be fit for a king.
| Henri Gissey, Louis XIV as Apollo, 1653|
Courtesy of Biblioteque Nationale, Paris
We promise we won’t make you do any dancing. But be moved to vigorous applause and we'll love you for it.