Music: From the 18th Century Hit Parade

In California, a celebration of Rameau's subtle delights

It is a scene from Watteau or Boucher come to delicate, lilting life. An amorous pastoral allegory in three acts, or entrees, its dramatis personae include shepherds, sylvans and fauns. One of the greatest hits of the 18th century, Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les Fetes d'Hebe proclaims the potency of poetry, music and dance in the highly ornamented, graciously stylized cadences of the French baroque. But can such a gentle artifice still speak to the brutal and cynical 20th century?

A hardy band of performers is answering yes. Last week in Los Angeles, Les Fetes d'Hebe was given a glowing new production that...

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