Only the French would like an opera by an Italian, Jean-Baptiste Lully. Only the French would resuscitate an opera like Cadmus et Hermione. Here are some pithy observations from the opera:
- Of all the ills of life, love is the most dangerous.
- The dragon is satiated with blood and carnage.
- When one sees it is all over, it is easy to be brave.
- Without the pleasure of love, life has no attraction.
Thus in the course of the opera, we live & love with Hymen, Pallas Athene, Juno, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.
Made for a powerful and rich king, this is sumptuous opera: music and dance intertwined. Lots of gods coming down from the machinery to save the day and set Cadmus et Hermoine to marriage. The new production is opulent in costume and scenery. It is from the Opera Comique in Paris and can be had on DVD from Amazon.com.
A good brandy helps. As you decline into satiation of senses, sounds, and sentiments, you imagine parallels of lust and love; physical sensations; life lived and lost; lovers of fleshy form; kindness and forgiveness; gentle caresses in the face of age and softness; the ultimate climax of all.
The music overwhelms now as it was intended to do so to a court of immeasurable wealth and lasciviousness. The Sun King was the intended audience. And his mistress too. Praise them. Make them good and god-like in their acts, desires, and sex. We are but pale emulators.
Yet on a late Saturday evening what harm is there in such pleasure? Go opera and brandy.