Hippolyte et Aricie by Rameau. Arcola Theatre, Dalston, London E8. Grimeborn season. To 17 August. 3***. William Russell.

Hippolyte et Arice
Music by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Libretto Abbe Simon-Joseph Pellegrin.

Part if the Grimeborn season at the Arcola, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 5DL.
In Studio 1 to 17 August at 7.30pm.
TICKETS:020 7503 1646

Review: William Russell 13 August
Premiered in 1733 this is the first opera to which the word baroque was applied. It is, to be honest, pretty hard going although it gets an efficiently staged and well sung and played production directed by Marcio da Silva. The plot is part, although not all of the problem. But it is complicated, being one of those tales of Greeks going to the Underworld, falling out with the Gods and lovers generally having a pretty bad time. As well as directing the evening da Silva plays Thesee – he also plays baroque guitar in the orchestra when not on stage – who has been to the Underworld to do various things leaving Phedre, his queen to reign in his absence. Hyppolyte, his son by another wife, is in love with Aricie who has been compelled by the goddess Diana to take a bow of chastity. Phedre, told erroneously that Thesee has died, offers herself to Hippolyte with whom she is in love, but he declines and when Thesee returns he is forced to flee for his life.Thesee thinks he has assaulted his wife. Hypppolyte and Aricie run away to Diana’s sacred grove but she is still against the match and he is abducted by a sea monster. Phedre kills herself, after explaining things to Thesee, and the lovers are mysteriously reunited in Diana’s grove – or something like that. Kieron White is a splendidly romantic Hyppolyte, da Silva a sonorous Thesee and Alexandra Bork is a dark and dangerous Phedre. It all works well enough, but even with sur titles it gets hard to follow, and creating a sea monster is beyond the company’s resources. The Grimeborn season is, however, about bringing the old, the new and the rare to the attention of audiences. Rameau’s opera is well worthy of that attention and the orchestra do a fine job with the score..
Hippolyte: Kieran White.
Aricie: Juliet Petrus.
Phedre: Alexandra Bork.
Diane: Helen May.
L’Amour: Katherine MacRae.
Mercue: Oguzhan Engin.
Tisiphone: Oscar Smith.
Pluto: john Hollande-Avery.
Une Pretresse: Angharad Davies.
Une Matelote: Jessica Summers.
Director: Marcio da Silva.
Designer: Christian Hey.
Assistant Movement Director: Vivi Bayliss.
Conductor Kieran Staub.

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