A love triangle between brothers – Rameau’s Castor and Pollux

Gemini, the constellation in the sky, is easily identifiable by its two brightest stars, Castor and Pollux. According to mythology, Jupiter himself placed them there, making them immortal due to their love and brotherhood despite facing adversity. The story of Castor and Pollux has been adapted into Jean-Philippe Rameau’s fourth opera, of which the original version from 1737 is being performed at the Müpa’s Early Music Festival.

Rameau’s opera has been enjoyed by baroque music lovers for almost 290 years. Initially, the public was apprehensive about the portrayal of passionate brotherly love, but it has since won the hearts of opera enthusiasts and is a huge success.

Castor and Pollux are indeed twin brothers, but from two different fathers. Pollux, Zeus’ son, is immortal, but Castor, a mortal’s son, is mortal himself. The story begins with Pollux about to marry his bride, Télaïre, but she loves Castor. Castor decides to go into exile because of the wedding, but Pollux renounces his marriage and gives his bride to his brother upon hearing of his farewell to his beloved.

But there is no mythological lore without warfare! The story takes a twist when Linceus, the twins’ enemy, attacks the palace to take the brothers’ love for himself. The opera’s high tenor and high bass voices are captivating, and Rameau’s music becomes more colourful and passionate as the story progresses.

Despite being considered more of a music theorist than a composer until his fifties, Rameau’s music is rich in ideas and varied, with a fondness for mythological themes and choruses. His works stirred up heated debates, splitting opera fans into two camps, with his supporters in favour of his lively dramatic style.

The upcoming production of Castor and Pollux at Müpa will feature artists such as Reinoud V Mechelen, Tassis Christoyanis, Judith Van Wanroij, and Véronique Gens in the leading roles. The conductor, György Vashegyi, is an eminent expert on early music who was awarded the French State’s Knighthood of the Order of Arts and Letters for his research into French Baroque opera literature.

The Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir will provide an excellent musical experience. Audiences can enjoy a unique concert experience and a recording of the work with the support of the partners. The concert will be preceded by a presentation of the work entitled Prelude by Benoit Dratwicki, which will take place in the Auditorium. Remember to arrive at the venue by 6 pm!

Article: Anna Rácz

Translation: Nóra Fehér