Salieri: Les Danaides / Rousset
LES CHANTRES DU CENTRE DE MUSIQUE BAROQUE DE VERSAILLES SCHNEEBELLI LES TALENS LYRIQUES ROUSSET, CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET
‘One evening I paid a visit to the Opéra. There I saw Les Danaïdes, by Salieri. The gorgeous splendor of the spectacle, the rich fullness of the orchestra and the chorus, the wonderful voice and pathetic charm of Madame Branchu, Dérivis’s rugged power […] filled me with an excitement and enthusiasm that I cannot attempt to describe.’ Thus Berlioz related his encounter with one of the most revolutionary operas of the ancien régime, written by an eminent pupil of Gluck, Antonio Salieri. Feeling the stirrings of early Romanticism, the latter imbued the tragic fate of Hypermnestra with pathos and vehemence such as were rarely attained even by his teacher. The horrible plot fomented by Danaus with his daughters, the Danaids, takes us from palatial splendor to the sinister darkness of a secret temple, and finally to the Underworld itself, where a vulture, serpents, demons and the Furies avenge the mass murder of the sons of Ægyptus.