Jean-Jacques Rousseau as composer on this week's Lyric Stage
This week (04/25/21) we have a one act opera composed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Le Divin de Village, The Village Soothsayer. Rousseau was an eighteenth century man of many seasons, influential philosopher, novelist, autobiographer, and botanist, as well as a respected composer. He composed Le Divin de Village when he was forty years old. It is an intermezzo, a short comic work presented between acts of more serious operas. The form was a precursor of Opera Buffa.
Le Divan de Village was first performed on 18 October 1752 before the royal court at Fontainebleau, and for the public, on 1 March 1753 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. King Louis XV loved the piece so much that he offered Rousseau the great honor of a life pension. Rousseau refused the honor. However, the opera became one of the most popular of its day and brought him both wealth and fame. The opera was also performed at the wedding of the future Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Colin and Colette love one another, yet they suspect each other of being unfaithful — in Colin's case, with the lady of the manor, and in Colette's with a courtier. They each seek the advice and support of the village soothsayer in order to reinforce their love. After a series of deceptions, Colin and Colette reconcile and are happily married.
Recorded in 1956, this performance features Janine Micheau as Colette, Nicolai Gedda as Colin, and Michel Roux as the village soothsayer. Louis de Froment conducts the Louis de Froment Chamber Ensemble and the Raymond St. Paul Chorus.