Castor et Pollux

Castor et Pollux

Castor et Pollux

Concert version opera

Tragédie lyrique by Jean-Philippe Rameau in a prologue and five acts.

Libretto by Gentil-Bernard. Premiered at the Académie royale de musique on 24 October 1737. Presented in its 1754 version.

Performance duration: 3h with an intermission

With Bernard Richter, Florian Sempey, Judith van Wanroij, Michèle Losier, Christian Immler, Katia Velletaz, Cyrille Dubois, Tomislav Lavoie

Choir and orchestra, Ensemble Pygmalion
Raphaël Pichon
, conductor


In an 18th century troubled by aesthetic disputes, the second version of Castor et Pollux was presented during the Querelle des Bouffons. In the face of the so-called supremacy of Italian music, this opera displayed the assets of French art: the expressive power of declamation and the efficiency of choirs and ballets endow the tragic fate of two heroic brothers with novel emotion.

As part of the Rameau's year



Castor, Bernard Richter
Pollux, Florian Sempey
Télaïre, Judith van Wanroij
Phébé, Michèle Losier
Jupiter, Christian Immler
Cléone, une suivante d’Hébé, une Ombre heureuse, Katia Velletaz
Un athlète, Mercure, un Spartiate, Cyrille Dubois
Le Grand Prêtre de Jupiter, Tomislav Lavoie

Choir and orchestra, Ensemble Pygmalion

Raphaël Pichon, direction

Coproduction, Centre de musique baroque de Versailles / Pygmalion
Coréalisation, Centre de musique baroque de Versailles / Opéra Comique

As part of the Rameau's year



I. Télaïre (Telaira), daughter of the Sun, is betrothed to King Pollux. Her sister Phébé (Phoebe) despairs at the thought that the king’s brother, Castor — whom she loves — is also in love with Télaïre. Her only hope lies in Lincée (Lynceus), the two brothers’ unfortunate rival, who intends to abduct the princess. As for Télaïre, she laments her forthcoming marriage to Pollux, because it is Castor she loves. After acknowledging their mutual affection, the lovers nevertheless choose to part. Changing his mind, Pollux abandons his rights to his brother. But the celebrations are short-lived: Lincée, secretly guided by Phébé, invades the city. Castor is fatally wounded and falls as his brother pursues the assailants.

II. The people of Sparta are grieving at the funeral rites of Castor. Télaïre mourns the one she loved, all the more so since his rival is still alive. Phébé reminds the inconsolable princess that immortal Pollux will avenge his brother. Pollux arrives with the news of Lincée’s death. Télaïre demands further proof of his love and asks him to beseech Jupiter to bring Castor back to life. Pollux gives her his promise.

III. Pollux is torn: by saving his brother he will lose Télaïre. But, as the high-priest announces Jupiter’s descent, Télaïre reminds him of his promise. Pollux obtains his father’s mercy for Castor, but at a dreadful price: in exchange he will have to die himself. Determined, Pollux agrees.

IV. Assisted by Mercury, Pollux descends to the Underworld where he finds Castor, captive in the Elysian Fields, and informs him of his decision. Moved, Castor asks for only one day on earth at the princess’s side. He will then come back to free his brother. Mercury returns him to the world of the living.

V. Phébé is devastated by Castor’s return in exchange for Pollux’s death. She vows to rekindle Jupiter’s wrath. The reunion of the lovers is intense but brief: when she learns of the pact between the two brothers, Télaïre uses all her powers of persuasion to keep her beloved. Castor’s hesitations are interrupted by a muffled rumbling revealing the Underworld’s impatience. As the situation reaches its climax, Jupiter appears to announce that the two brothers will be allowed to share their immortality: a ballet danced by the stars and the planets crowns the birth of a new constellation — Castor and Pollux.

[Benoît Dratwicki]

As part of the Rameau's year




Salle Favart


87, 70, 54, 30, 11, 6€


0 825 01 01 23 (0,15 € la minute)

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