JEAN PHILIPPE RAMEAU
HIPPOLYTE et ARICIE
Sunday, February 2, 2014— 2:30pm
in french with english surtitles
250th commemorative anniversary of rameau's death.
The opera’s main characters are all taken from classic Greek mythology. Hippolyte is the son of Theseus, the legendary founding king of Athens and the stepson of Phaedra, Theseus’ second wife. Hippolyte is in love with Aricie. Theseus has taken her captive, and she and Hippolyte have fallen in love. The innocence of Hippolyte is tragically revealed only after his perceived death and Phaedra’s demise.
With Kevin Mallon and the Aradia Ensemble.
Kevin Mallon, Conductor
Aradia Ensemble, Orchestra
Guillermo Silva-Marin, Dramatic Advisor
Colin Ainsworth as Hippolyte
Meredith Hall as Aricie
Allyson McHardy as Phèdre
Alain Coulombe as Thésée
Diana, chaste goddess of the moon and the hunt, and Cupid, god of love, argue over who will dominate. Their quarrel is settled by Jupiter, who decrees that love will rule over all hearts for one day every year. Diana vows to protect the mortals Hippolyte and Aricie.
Hippolyte is in love with a young woman, Aricie, the daughter of Pallas, the enemy of his father Theseus (Thésée), King of Athens. Pallas compels Aricie to take a vow of chastity to Diana. Before she does so, Hippolyte reveals his love for Aricie and Diana promises to protect the couple. This enrages Phaedra (Phèdre), Queen of Athens, who harbours an illicit love for Hippolyte, her stepson. News arrives that her husband Theseus is dead. Phaedra may now pursue her passion for Hippolyte and offer him the crown of Athens.
Neptune, father of Theseus, has promised to answer his son's prayers three times during his life. Theseus's first prayer is to reach Hades safely, where he hopes to rescue his friend Pirithous. Theseus fights with the Fury Tisiphone, but successfully reaches Pluto's court. Pluto condemns Theseus to share the fate of his friend Pirithous, but allows him a trial. When Theseus loses, he prays a second time to Neptune, and Pluto is powerless to hold him. As Theseus is leaving, however, the Furies (Les Parques) predict that though he may leave Hades, he will find Hell in his own home.
Phaedra meets Hippolyte, who offers her his condolences on the death of Theseus. Mistaking his concern for love, Phaedra confesses her passion to him. Hippolyte is shocked and curses her. Phaedra tries to kill herself but Hippolyte prevents it. Theseus arrives unexpectedly. Unsure what to make of the scene, he accuses Hippolyte of trying to rape Phaedra. Phaedra rushes off and Hippolyte nobly refuses to denounce his stepmother. Theseus decides to use his last prayer to Neptune to punish Hippolyte.
Hippolyte and Aricie have escaped together to Diana's realm. A monster suddenly emerges from the sea to punish Hippolyte. He tries to fight it and is defeated. Phaedra confesses her guilt for Hippolyte's death.
Theseus learns the truth from Phaedra, who takes her own life. Theseus too threatens suicide but Neptune reveals that Hippolyte is still alive, thanks to Diana's protection. But for unjustly blaming his son, Theseus is condemned never to see him again.
In Diana's realm, the goddess reunites Hippolyte and Aricie.