The Fairy King

by Anne Payot-Le Nabour
William Christie conducting an orchestra

The protagonists of Henry Purcell’s semi-opera The Fairy Queen are promised «one charming night» once they have been lulled to sleep by the allegorical figure of Secrecy. The Philharmonie’s audience, on the other hand, can look forward to no less than three enchanting experiences, for William Christie will be Artist in residence in Luxembourg this season. As a harpsichordist and conductor, this full-blooded musician has cultivated not only a passion for the music of the French Grand Siècle, but also for the garden of his estate in the Western French town Thiré, where his mission is to offer optimal conditions for highly talented young vocalists participating in his programme Le Jardin des Voix. Christie’s protégés are also involved in the performance of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen in Luxembourg, a piece that is hard to pigeon-hole, as it is based on William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream and combines amorous intrigues with the familiar «play within a play». A fairy-tale scenario awaits the audience, but one with a fresh approach: the production includes choreography by Mourad Merzouki. Together with the dancers of his Compagnie Käfig, Merzouki will infuse the action on stage with elements of hip hop and contemporary dance.

William Christie, who has added French citizenship to his American one, will also turn his attention to sacred repertoire, performing the orchestra version of Joseph Haydn’s Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s expansive Vêpres solennelles d’un confesseur with the Luxembourg Philharmonic.

During his third concert, William Christie will accompany the young violinist Théotime Langlois de Swarte at the Salle de Musique de Chambre. The programme features works by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Jean-Baptiste Senaillé, whose oeuvre was almost unknown until the two musicians recently presented a CD recording of it. On the occasion of this release, ResMusica called Christie «a great harpsichord player… who offers the violinist a solid foundation while also assuring him of his steadfast support at all times».

A promising residency awaits the Luxembourg audience, and like a fairy king, William Christie will pour enchanting sounds into the ears of all those present – only he knows their exact recipe.

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