Castor et Pollux Sheldonian Performance Now Available for Streaming

The UK Premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Castor et Pollux (abridged for semi-staged performance) that took place on 15 May at the Sheldonian Theatre is now available to stream online via the Music at Oxford website. The work was performed by the Rameau Project Orchestra & Choir Conducted by Dr Jonathan Williams.

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) is the leading French contemporary of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, and his 30 lavish stage works composed for the Paris of Louis XV place him among the top three opera composers of the eighteenth century. This performance will be the very first chance in the UK to hear his Castor et Pollux in its original and revolutionary version of 1737 and there’s something for everyone to enjoy: rousing choruses, toe-tapping dances and some of Baroque music’s most beautiful arias.

Never before performed here, Castor et Pollux has been reconstructed by Oxford conductor Jonathan Williams whose previous Rameau performances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and English Touring Opera have been so enjoyed by Oxford audiences. Giving this premiere are the Rameau Project Choir and Orchestra and a starry cast which includes Hilary Cronin (double winner of the 2021 Handel Singing Competition) and renowned baritone Peter Harvey. The production also aims to give a platform for rising stars within opera to showcase their talents so taking on the role of Castor is Rory Carver and the role of Pollux will be sung by Jack Lawrence-Jones.

The libretto by soldier-turned-poet Pierre-Joseph Bernard is a classic tale of revenge, passion, jealousy and self-sacrifice. Inspiring Rameau to some of his finest music, Castor et Pollux was rightly hailed as his ‘crowning achievement’. The drama will be brought to life for us through a new semi-staging by director Guido Martin-Brandis, whose recent productions have been critically acclaimed by The Times and Opera Now.

‘[Jonathan Williams] led his forces in an interpretation of captivating vigour and elegance’.
Opera Magazine (On 15 May performance of Rameau’s Castor et Pollux)

‘Hilary Cronin sang her role with a rich palette of tone and nuance. The baritone Jack Lawrence-Jones made a sterling, resolute Pollux and Rory Carver as Castor…rapidly established his haute-contre credentials with ‘Séjour de l’éternelle paix’. Peter Harvey was suitably and stylishly souverain as Mars and Jupiter, and Jenni Harper brought shining clarity to Vénus and two smaller roles. In the prologue Emily Gray was a galvanising physical and vocal presence as Minerve.’
Opera Magazine (On 15 May performance of Rameau’s Castor et Pollux)

‘Wonderfully idiomatic conducting from Williams…’
The Guardian (with the Orchestra of Enlightenment)

‘I can’t imagine anything more happiness enhancing… a transporting little delight’
★★★★★ Opera Now (for Guido Martin-Brandis – The Opera Company’s Rameau’s Roots)

Watch the performance online via the Music at Oxford website.