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Persée (Perseus)
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Opera Atelier production, October 2000
with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Artists of Atelier Ballet
Elgin Theatre, Toronto

Lully’s tragédie lyrique Persée premiered in the Palais Royal, Paris, 1682. The opera chronicles the story of the demi-god Perseus, who rescues the Ethiopian people from the dreaded monster Medusa and subsequently goes on to free Andromeda. Cassiopeia, Andromeda’s mother, had boasted that she was more beautiful than the Queen of Heaven, and Juno (Hera) was so enraged that she sent a huge sea monster to ravage Ethiopia.

Opera Atelier’s production of Persée was the company’s millennium project and was performed at the Elgin Theatre, Toronto. A remount of this production, conducted by Hervé Niquet, was filmed for CBC television (Opening Night/ Director, Marc Stone) in April 2004 and has since been released internationally as a DVD.

Gerard Gauci: Our most elaborate production to date, Persée called for the complete spectrum of baroque stagecraft including multiple flying machines, gods and goddesses, three gorgons and a sea serpent. The designs were executed in an ornate and florid style, reminiscent of the 17th-century originals by Louis XIV’s court designer, Jean Bérain. It was not unusual for designers of the period to lend their talents to a vast array of applications and Bérain was known for designing architecture, tapestries, furniture and all manner of decorative objects. His opulent and grandiose designs had great influence and epitomized Louis XIV style.