I was thinking about French baroque opera a little more. I don’t really have a lot of experience with it. The only such opera I have ever seen live was Rameau’s Platée at the New York City Opera (remember the NYCO?) in like 2003 or 2004. I remember it being colorful and pretty fun. The countertenor they had dressed up the frog suit as Platée was kind of a riot. I believe there is a chorus towards the end where repetitions of “bon” or “c’est bon” are made to sound like a frog croaking? I also have a bright memory of Christine Brandes as Folly nailing some fairly gnarly coloratura.
My music collection does not contain much in the way of 17th or 18th century French music – among the few things I do have is this recording of excerpts from Rameau’s operas by Carolyn Sampson and Ex Cathedra. A lot of it is very pretty – and it includes the “rossignols amoreux” aria from Hippolyte et Aricie that I heard the other night. I listened to this recording again last night because I hadn’t heard it in ages. Other highlights are the interplay of the woodwinds (oboe and bassoon, I think) with the soprano part in the arias from Les Indes Galantes.
There is also this from Les Concert des Nations under Jordi Savall. It’s mostly Corelli and Telemann, but there’s a suite of dances from Les Indes Galantes at the end which reveals yet again how charming Rameau can be. As per earlier discussion, I think in the end it is probably unfair to Rameau to lump him in with Lully and leave it at that. (Though I have to say, in terms of repeated intensive listening, I would probably break for Corelli over Rameau.)
And I nearly forgot! Early music BAMF Paul O’Dette also has a CD of the lute music of baroque French composer Nicholas “Who?” Vallet, which I fell asleep during on an airplane once. Through the magic of the iPod I just began listening to it again just now. It’s quite pleasant and I am definitely still awake.