Les Talens Lyriques announces 2020-21 season with first modern performances of Salieri’s Armida

Further recordings from the ensemble include a DVD of Stefano Landi’s La Morte d’Orfeo from the Dutch National Opera’s 2018 production,
and a solo disc of Armand-Louis Couperin’s harpsichord works from
Christophe Rousset.

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Christophe Rousset said:

“I am proud to present our new season of heroines: complex, rich and
dynamic in their identities, moving in their expression, eloquent, sensual;
they are bearers of a discourse rich in metamorphoses such as has always
appealed to me. Truth, humanity and authenticity are values that have
always guided my ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques.”

250 years after its first performance at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1771,
Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques revive Salieri’s Armida
with the first modern performances of the composer’s first breakthrough
success. The concert production returns to Vienna (Theater an der Wien, 19
February 2021) following performances at the Paris Philharmonie (2 February
2021) and in Caen (30 January 2021). Armida will be recorded by Les Talens
Lyriques and released on disc in December 2020.

Based on a libretto by Marco Coltellini, Armida was inspired by
Torquato Tasso’s epic Gerusalemme liberata, and had been the
subject of operas by Lully, Traetta and Handel among others. Salieri’s
three-act dramma per musica is located exclusively in the enchanted garden
where Armida holds the bewitched warrior Rinaldo prisoner. Lenneke Ruiten
takes the title role, with Florie Valiquette as Rinaldo.

Exploiting the melodic richness of Italian opera within the dramatic
framework of French tragÈdie lyrique, Armida was much praised by
critics and was one of the few Italian operas to be published in Germany in
the 18th century. Despite the tarnished views of Antonio Salieri
perpetuated in popular culture, the composer was a pivotal figure in the
development of late 18th-century opera, writing nearly forty such works in
three languages, and his work inspired opera composers from Mozart to a
young Berlioz.

Christophe Rousset has acted as a ‘musical archaeologist’ since his
acclaimed soundtrack to the film Farinelli, and has long
championed Salieri’s work in an effort to restore the misunderstood
composer’s works to their rightful place. In 2005, Rousset released a
landmark first recording of La grotta di Trofonio, and Les Talens
Lyriques recently completed their critically-acclaimed series of Salieri’s
three blood-thirsty French operas: Les DanaÔdes (2017), Les Horaces (2018), and Tarare (2019).

The goddess Venus is the object of adoration in two ballets from the French
Court in the late 1600s by Jean-Baptiste Lully and his disciple Pascal
Collasse, paired in concert together as La Naissance de VÈnus by
Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques in Paris (CitÈ de la Musique, 12
January 2021) and at Vienna’s Festival Resonanzen (Wiener Konzerthaus, 16
January 2021).

Lully’s celebratory Ballet royal de la naissance de VÈnus was
danced by nobles, including Louis XIV, at the French Court in 1665. Written
by Benserade in homage to Henrietta of England, the two-part ballet
recounts the creation of Venus before establishing and praising the power
and authority that she extends through the universe.

Pascal Collasse’s setting of thirty years later, in which rivalries between
the suitors of Venus almost start a war on Olympus, acknowledges its
considerable debts to Lully in the preface. Collasse’s career was dominated
by his association with the older composer, whose influence worked both to
the benefit and to the detriment of the younger man. The two works are
performed with a joint cast including Deborah Cachet, BÈnedicte Tauran and
Ambroisine BrÈ.

In June 2021, Les Talens Lyriques return to Germany to perform Mozart’s Idomeneo, a grand celebration for the centenary of the Mozartfest
W¸rzburg. The performances (11-12 June 2021) will take place at the
18th-century W¸rzburg Residenz, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Baroque
palace. Mozart’s operatic dilemma is performed in concert with a starry
cast including Julian Pre?gardien as the titular King of Crete, Judith van
Wanroij as the Trojan princess Ilia, and Myrto? Papatanasiu as Elettra.

Across the 20-21 season, a growing emphasis on the composer sees Les Talens
Lyriques release Mozart’s Betulia liberata on disc and explore
Mozart’s Symphonies no. 39 & 41 at Linz’s Brucknerhaus (21 February).
The three symphonies, composed in rapid succession in the summer of 1788,
are paired with Michael Haydn’s Symphony no. 39, also written in the same
year. At the OpÈra Royal de Wallonie, LiËge, Christophe Rousset is the
guest conductor in Jean Liermier’s production of Mozart’s CosÏ fan tutte (14-22 May 2021), following previous appearances at
the house with Le Nozze di Figaro (2018) and Die Entf¸hrung aus dem Serail (2013).

Les Talens Lyriques travel to London’s Wigmore Hall at the turn of the year
in a special New Year’s Eve concert pairing two of Bach’s Harpsichord
Concertos with Vivaldi’s famous Quattro Stagioni, joined by
violinist Gilone Gaubert. The 31 December 2020 concert is the first of
three appearances at the London venue, which sees the group return on 28
February with Couperin’s Les Nations. A musical adventure across
Europe, the composer’s fourth collection of instrumental chamber works is
formed of four ordres which reflected the four great political
powers of Couperin’s world: the French, Spanish, Holy Roman Empire and the
Savoy dynasty of Piedmont.

Following the release of their five-star recording of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Les Talens Lyriques are rejoined by soloists
Sandrine Piau and Christopher Lowrey as they perform the Stabat Mater on
tour in the approach to Easter 2021 in Genoa (22 March), Bologna (23
March), and Heidelberg (28 March), ending their tour in London at the
Wigmore Hall during Easter weekend, Saturday 3 April 2021. The Neapolitan
school is one of Christophe Rousset’s first musical loves, and the
Pergolesi Stabat Mater is a work that has long been in Les Talens
Lyriques’ repertoire.

The programme, which frames Pergolesi’s final work with unpublished motets
by two great exponents of the Neapolitan school, Nicola Porpora and
Leonardo Leo, was named BBC Music Magazine’s Choral & Song Choice (June
2020) and BBC Radio 3 Record Review’s Record of the Week (11 April 2020)
following its release on Alpha in March 2020.

Les Talens Lyriques continue their association with the newly reopened
ThÈ‚tre du Ch‚telet in Paris, performing Bach’s St. John Passion from 10-13
May in the dramatic staging by Calixto Bieito. The production brings a
choir of local residents together in the heart of the narrative, with
soloists including Joshua Ellicott as the Evangelist.

Les Talens Lyriques are uniquely directed in this staging by viola da gamba
player and frequent collaborator, Philippe Pierlot. Ensemble founder
Christophe Rousset and Pierlot join together to present Bach in recital
ahead of the production, performing Bach’s three Sonatas for viola da gamba
and harpsichord at BOZAR in Brussels on 25 February.

Leading mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg joins Les Talens Lyriques in Paris (29
September) and Dortmund (1 October) in an all-Purcell programme, Music for
a while, centred around his song collection Orpheus Britannicus. The
programme also includes the composer’s Suite no. 2 in G minor and Suite no.
7 in D minor.

On 10 December 2020, Les Talens Lyriques are joined by Australian soprano
and frequent collaborator Siobhan Stagg for Amour Amor, for music
by Lully, Scarlatti, Handel, Leclair and MontÈclair in Rouen’s Chapelle

The programme of cantatas centres around the strong female figures Ariadne,
Lucretia and Armida, finishing with Handel’s restless Notte placida e cheta (Calm and Placid Night), and its
unconventional fugal ending. In Michel Pignolet de Monte?clair’s
heart-rending cantata La Morte di Lucretia, the central figure is
a sagacious, political woman fully aware of the consequences of her act.
Scarlatti’s vivid L‘Arianna cantata turns the abandoned love of
Ariadne into a powerful tempest of grief and betrayal for her faithless
lover Theseus, while Lully’s heroine Armide battles fiercely with love and
vengeance within herself.

A busy schedule of new recordings sees Christophe Rousset and Les Talens
Lyriques release four new recordings over their 2020/21 season. Salieri’s Armida is released in December 2020 on ApartÈ, following the
release in September 2020 of Mozart’s Betulia liberata, also on
ApartÈ. Mozart’s only oratorio traces the influence of the older composer
Salieri on his younger colleague and was written when Mozart was only
fifteen. The highly virtuosic arias feature Sandrine Piau, Teresa
Iervolino, Amanda Forsythe, Pablo Bemsch and Nahuel di Pierro.

In a DVD of the 2018 Dutch National Opera production, released on Naxos on
12 June 2020, Les Talens Lyriques unveil the exquisite music of Stefano
Landi’s La morte d’Orfeo. Landi’s narrative, directed by Pierre
Audi, begins where Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo ends, with the character
torn apart and finally reincarnated as a star in the sky.

“Les Talens Lyriques […] conjured up universes of sound from the pit. They
seem an extension of Rousset’s thought processes; more, it is safe to say
that I have never encountered such technical perfection from authentic
instruments before, whether in articulation, accuracy of attack or in

In a solo disc released on ApartÈ in September 2020, Christophe Rousset
turns to the harpsichord music of Armand-Louis Couperin. A member of the
Couperin dynasty, Armand-Louis was renowned for his improvisations on the
Te Deum and his reputation as a masterful organist in the churches of
Paris. His wife’s family were harpsichord manufacturers and his writing
calls for experimental instrumental features allowing dynamics, rarely
found in instruments today.

Recent recordings from Les Talens Lyriques have garnered immense success,
with a recent nomination at the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2020 and the
Belgian critics’ Caecilia Prize 2019 for Gounod’s Faust
(Palazzetto Bru Zane, September 2019). Lully’s Isis (Aparte?,
December 2020) was nominated as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine
(January 2020) and as Opera Choice in BBC Music Magazine (February 2020).