Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Gallant Indians

Recently I blogged on Jean Philippe Rameau, French composer in the 18th Century, and highlighted his work, The Entrrance of Polymnie. Since then, I have looked into another of his compositions after talking with a friend who remarked about a YouTube of Les Indes Galantes. I was told that I'd have to see it, to even comment. I was intrigued, and so I did!

Les Indes Galantes is a rarely-heard Opera-Ballet, composed in 1735, with daring harmonies and orchestrations that were considered truly "out there" for the times. It is a love story, with acts from four exotic cultures, including The Gracious Turk, The Incas of Peru, The Flowers (Persia), and the Savages of America. By today's standards, we would have to say, it's not quite politically correct. But for its time, it was definitely well-recieved. It played from 1736 to 1761, a total of 185 times! That's a good run by any standards.

But you have to see the You Tube to fully appreciate this particular performance. The savages are dressed in the stereo-typical Native American Indian costumes. It's a kick. Upon further investigation, I also found another production of the opera-ballet, performers totally nude. But, unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I cannot post it here. But I am providing a link for the other. Give it look, see, and have a good laugh!

By the way, In 1962, Frank Stella, American minimalist/abstract expressionist artist, provided us with a series of paintings entitled Les Indes Galantes, an homage of sorts to Rameau's music. Some colorful, and some black and white. Stella considers this particular work to express the musician's orderly, rythmic sense of the music. What do you think?

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