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The 16th-century Amadis story was the French equivalent of Ariosto’s paladin yarns, and when Lully and librettist Quinault turned from Classical subjects to this for their 1684 tragédie- lyrique it reflected a growing policy of chauvinism that would culminate in Louis XIV’s disastrous and stupid 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. As ever with Lully, we have frequent exquisite moments interspersed with a lot of formulaic chat: fast-moving, inventively varied in rhythm and scoring, but cumulatively wearisome. There isn’t much room for character or depth in music that admits about four affects, with a predictable style for each. Still, the dances are always good, and there’s a nice line in enchantment with the twining duets from which Purcell would learn so much. Things hot up in Act 4 with demons and drama – spectacle always eclipses human interest. Christophe Rousset is admirably crisp, producing a very sumptuous sound from the small band, and the rather identikit singers are perfect in that Christie-style way, with Judith van Wanroij and Cyril Auvity leading the cast.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica

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