Les Boréades RCT 31 (Vocal Score)

Rameau, Jean-Philippe

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Rameau Les Boréades RCT 31 (Vocal Score)

Tragédie in five acts

“Les Boréades” was actually intended to be performed at the Théâtre de Choisy in Paris in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years’ War on the occasion of the peace celebrations.  However, after two rehearsals with the biggest stars of the time in Versailles and Paris, the work was cancelled – possibly due to censorship of the libretto which questions the tradition of succession to royal power and makes the self-determination of a woman a topic.  These were toxic subjects that must have been unacceptable to the court and the king, who had become sensitized after the assassination attempt on Louis XV in 1757.

In the opera, Boreas who is the god of the north wind, wants to marry one of his sons, Borilée or Calisis, to Alphise, the Queen of Bactria.  But she spurns both of them and prefers another, Abaris, much to Boreas’ annoyance.  The subversive nature of the libretto and its libertarian morals are made abundantly clear in the characterization of the protagonists: Abaris, who is plagued by self-doubt, is an anti-hero, the gods appear autocratic and stupid, whilst Alphise denounces the tyrannical princes’ abuse of power and demands the right to decide freely for herself – and is publicly tortured for it.

Censorship, but also intrigues and a fire: “Les Boréades” had to battle many adversities before the work can now finally be performed unhindered with this edition.  On the positive side, however, these circumstances have meant that we now have a “pure” work, free of subsequent compromises or forced revisions.

This vocal score is based on the new critical edition which has been published as volume IV.29 of the “Opera omnia Rameau”. The main sources used here are the production score, copied in the Académie royale de musique de Paris, with corrections and annotations by Rameau, as well as the original parts.

- Vocal score (BA08865-90) and Full Score (BA08865-01) available for sale

- Performance material (BA08865-72) available for hire

Bouissou, Sylvie
Baerenreiter Germany

Additional Information

Baroque Period
Mixed Voices