GREAT ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE SUN KING
February 23, 1653. Louis XIV was still only fifteen years old when he danced, covered in gold and jewels, the Royal Ballet of the Night. The Sun King was born! This founding moment of the Grand Siècle is as well known to historians and musicologists as it was unheard of until then, having remained only in the memory of the public of the time and on the very incomplete scores of the king’s librarian. Sébastien Daucé has devoted three years to this exceptional musical reconstruction from the preserved musical snippets.
As the kingdom of France emerged from the troubles of the Fronde des Princes against the royal power, Mazarin returned to Paris accompanied by the young Louis XIV, then 15 years old. The powerful minister had been forced to leave the capital at the height of the conflict. This fine politician then decided to organize one of these great entertainments, which he supervised the entire creation. Behind this seemingly festive and magnificent project, the minister envisaged above all a political object whose aim was to establish the power of the young king.
Mazarin required the talent of the greatest artists of the kingdom for the composition of this great Ballet of the Night; it was also the first time that a court ballet was performed in front of the public on the stage of a theater. In the course of four vigils, entries (episodes danced by masked and costumed characters) follow one another, in which thieves, shepherds, rogues, beggars, princes, allegories of games and pleasures, the Fates, Sadness, and the Graces appear successively.
This totally whimsical litany finds its unity in the main subject of the ballet: all of them illustrate in their own way this marvelous and sometimes unreal world of the Night. As dawn approaches, Dawn appears and announces a new brightness whose brilliance has no equal: it is the Sun, danced by Louis XIV. Thus, victorious over the darkness, the young king dances, surrounded by the princes who have rallied to his cause.
The Royal Concert of the Night combines entire scenes from this ballet with scenes from the first Italian operas performed in France and commissioned by Mazarin. Through allegories, entertainments and dreams, this original program, which saw Louis XIV appear as the Sun King for the first time, is brought to life again by the Correspondances ensemble.
Harmonia Mundi release September 9, 2015:
Limelight Magazine Opera Recording of the Year 2016, Echo Preis World Premiere Recording of the Year 2015, Choc de Classica de l’année 2015, ffff Télérama, **** The Times, Meilleur disque de l’année 2015 De Standaard, Editor’s Choice Gramophone, Coup de Cœur de l’année 2015 La Croix …