Idolized by two goddesses, abhorred by a god, a mortal shepherd has all Olympus in a tizzy and cannot fathom why. Jean-Joseph Cassanea de Mondonville’s Titon et l’Aurore, a bauble from the court of the Sun King, wraps a cat’s-cradle of entangled amours in ravishing tunes and timbres. This is just the kind of buried treasure the musicologist William Christie and his ensemble Les Arts Florissants have made it their mission to unearth. Nothing, to mix a metaphor, could put more wind in their sails than the theatrical fantasy of the wizard puppeteer Basil Twist.
Mounted and filmed in lockdown in the empty auditorium of the Opéra Comique, Twist’s production manages to marry the playfulness of vintage Disney to the Baroque extravagance of Tiepolo. It’s all as absurd as it is majestic, at once tinsel and pure gold. Terracotta figures awaken to dancing life, as do some very daffy sheep. Aoelus, lord of the winds, sweeps in like a thunderhead, and the hapless hero ages before our eyes into another Rip Van Winkle. Even the obligatory allegorical prologue—too often a snooze in these court pageants—lands with grace and flair.
Titon et l’Aurore is available for streaming until April 19
Matthew Gurewitsch writes about opera and classical music for AIR MAIL. He lives in Hawaii