Originating by way of an Aix-En-Provence Festival staging, William Christie and his Arts Florissants bring dramatic flair and musical panache to Mozart's great late Singspiel in equal measure. To begin with, there's a dream cast led by the alluring pairing of Hans Peter Blochwitz as Tamino and Rosa Mannion as Pamina. Anton Scharinger makes for an earthy Papageno, Reinhard Hagen is a commanding Sarastro, whilst Natalie Dessay's input as Queen of the Night comes over in both her showpiece arias as steadfast and electrifying. The casting in depth continues: rare is a Magic Flute that can boast singers of the calibre of Willard White and Linda Kitchen in the relatively small roles of Speaker and Papagena. Then, the uniformly warm vocal blend is homogeneously matched, note for note, with the gut strings and less aggressive winds of Les Arts Florissants. Not that there's anything limp or lacklustre about Christie's brisk tempi; whilst sharp editing maintains the theatrical urgency. The melliflously played "magic" flute and exact keyed glockenspiel input for Papageno's bells are further examples of the care which has gone into this state of the art "authentic" interpretation. With a work like The Magic Flute, recorded choices are voluminous. Neville Marriner with his Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields on Phillips puts in a brave showing, but William Christie maybe wins out in a thorough interpretation which simultaneously celebrates the opera's joy and mystery. –Duncan Hadfield
This album of Baroque cantatas and chamber duets grew out of a 2007 performance of Stefano Landi's 1631 opera Il Sant'Alessio starring Philippe Jaroussky and Max Emanuel Cencic (among the eight countertenors in the cast) with William Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants. Christie was so impressed with the blend of Jaroussky and Cencic's voices that he brought them together to explore the vast and rarely performed repertoire of late 17th and early 18th century Italian duets for equal voices.
Handel's operas–the center of his creative life before oratorios became the focus–have spent far too long in limbo awaiting rediscovery, which slowly started happening in the late '60s with works such as Giulio Cesare. But whether Handelian opera is still a novelty or you're already a rabid convert, this emotionally resonant, crisply played, superbly cast interpretation under William Christie and Les Arts Florissants is likely to shake up some of your ideas about the composer.
It was only a matter of time before William Christie got around to recording Mozart's delightful 1782 singspiel, and the results are very happy indeed. Period instruments are just right for the raucous "Turkish" music Mozart composed for Entführung, and they go very nicely with the light voices Christie has chosen as well. Most successful is the Belmonte of tenor Ian Bostridge, already famous for his lieder singing.
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 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.
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 earliest, is particularly dear to William Christie who has recorded and directed it on several occasions.