Rameau and the Greeks

Cretan ebullience and 17th century French beauty, hand in hand

One of the most important opera composers in history is the Frenchman Jean-Philippe Rameau: 35 operas! 35 operas, composed in the 17th century, and almost all with librettos based on Greek tragedies or comedies. The emotions, passion and tragedy of these classic stories were evidently an unprecedented source of inspiration for Rameau.  This was the reason for NBE to link a number of Rameau’s fabulous opera overtures to traditional Greek music, which is still relevant today and is played almost daily by young and old in villages and cities, on the mainland and on the islands. Our phenomenal guests are father and sons Giorgos, Nikos and Adonis Xylouris, tremendous heroes in Crete. Cretan traditional music is different from the music of the mainland. The rhythms are wilder and more unpredictable and the influence of the East is never far away. The laouto, the Cretan precursor of the guitar and the Lyra, a pear shaped, three-stringed instrument made from mulberry wood, both play an important role in Cretan music. The Lyra is held on the knee. The tones are formed by pushing the fingernail against the strings, rather than by pressing the strings onto the fret board. A viola da Gamba avant la letter…

when to see it

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photo: Peter Lodder

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photo: Peter Lodder

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photo: Peter Lodder

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photo: Peter Lodder

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