For any enthusiast of Baroque music, the production of Lully's Armide at the Theatre des Champs Elysées, directed by William Christie and staged by Robert Carsen, was an exceptional event. The last and most successful collaboration between Lully and his librettist Quinault, Armide is the ideal of the genre as desired by Louis XIV: a tragic opera that achieves the perfect fusion of music, song and dance. William Christie leads the orchestra and chorus of Les Arts Florissants and a dazzling cast. Stephanie D’Oustrac is the imperious sorceress Armida, overcome by the violence of a forbidden passion.
A genius with the ability to combine French and Italian influences in an art that transported the English language, Purcell may be William Christie's favourite composer.This production of Dido and Aeneas, directed by Deborah Warner and interpreted by Les Arts Florissants, was overwhelmingly acclaimed when created at the Vienna Festival in 2006 and again when repeated at the Opéra Comique in 2008.This short opera, one of the earrliest, is particularly dear to William Christie who has recorded and directed it on several occasions.
Lully's Atys was so dear to Louis XIV that it became known as the "the King's opera." With its unprecedented dramatic intensity, Atys was the first opera to feature a plot that revolved around love and the first French tragedy to kill off its lead character on stage. The opera was revived in 1985 when the Opéra de Paris called on William Christie and the director Jean-Marie Villégier to stage a celebration of the tercentenary of Lully's death. Resurrected from the ashes, Atys was a key factor in the revival of French baroque music. In 2011, the Opéra Comique once again presented Atys, and that production was filmed by FRA Musica for posterity.
A live performance from October 2011 at the Theatre de Caen affords a superb introduction to Cavalli’s rarely performed 1641 opera La Didone. William Christie leads Les Arts Florissants in beautifully realized period style, while French stage actor Clement Hervieu-Leger, in his operatic directorial debut, draws powerful and moving characterizations from a large, versatile cast.