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Molière wrote Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme as a comédie-ballet with Lully and it was first performed in 1670. Its curious combination of song, dance and spoken dialogue has always kept it in view, and Richard Strauss famously proposed an operatic version of it which became Ariadne auf Naxos.

In this recording, the grandiose setting of the Opéra Royal at Versailles is used to full effect, with Monsieur Jourdain, the bourgeois gentleman of the title, thoroughly out of place in the midst of its regal splendours. Jourdain is performed by Pascal Rénéric, who does quite a bit of galumphing and bellowing as he learns to dance and sing, while his sceptical wife (Emeline Bayart) looks on disapprovingly.

The final scene has Jourdain trying to marry off his daughter to a fake Turkish prince, who uses a curious lingua-franca called Sabir to stand in for Turkish. The music, both song and dance, is crisply performed under Christophe Coin’s baton. English subtitles and notes would have been a useful addition, but the DVD presents the Francophone viewer with an excellent introduction to this important work.

Simon Rees Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing