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Sémélé, Handel

Remarkable vocal cast. The mezzo Victoire Bunel is a persuasive and twirling Ino…

Crédit : Simon Gosselin

Smashed by Jupiter, "Sémélé" rises from the ashes at Lille Opera

08/10/2022 - Télérama - Sophie Bourdais

When the curtain rises, the drama has already been played out: all that remains of the beautiful, loving, naive Semele, the mythological figure and heroine of Georg Friedrich Handel’s oratorio, is a pile of smouldering ashes. Out of it suddenly emerges a dazed, incredulous young woman in a nightie. Locked in the vast room where she died, Sémélé, or rather her ghost, has no choice but to replay the events that led to her untimely death. Her forced betrothal to the pale Athamas, to the despair of her sister Ino. His abduction by Jupiter in the middle of the wedding. Her joyful love affair with the king of the gods. And the wrath of Juno, determined to pulverise this troublesome mortal in order to get her husband back… Everything begins again before our very eyes, as if it were a never-ending cycle.

Since his breathtaking Saül, discovered at the Glyndebourne Festival and then at the Théâtre du Châtelet, we have known what director Barrie Kosky is capable of when it comes to Handelian oratorios. In 2018, at Berlin’s Komische Oper, he staged this dazzling Sémélé, which will be available to stream in 2021. Caroline Sonrier, director of the Opéra de Lille, had a doubly happy idea: to bring this tried and tested production to France to launch her season, and to ask Emmanuelle Haïm, Barrie Kosky’s partner in other memorable productions, to conduct the music.