I have been studying Baroque music over the last couple of weeks under the excellent online tutelage of Prof. Craig Wright at Yale University and most of the course has understandably centred on the music of Purcell, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach and Handel. One composer we didn’t touch on among the many gems from this period was Jean Baptiste Lully.
Lully was Italian but went to France aged 14 and through various intrigues and connections caught the ear of the young Louis XIV and went on to be his court composer. Lully was a prolific and talented composer of sacred and secular music, ballet and opera and he collaborated quite often with Molière, the great French dramatist, on many pieces. Such was his influence on Louis that in 1672 he was given sole permission to produce French opera. Quite an achievement for an Italian! This was the start of the genre of French opera called ‘Tragédie Lyrique’ where performance included ballet sections, probably to accommodate Louis’ love of dancing (now thats my kind of monarch).
Le Roi Danse is a wonderful film about Lully and his relationship with Louis XIV and Molière by Belgian filmmaker Gérard Corbiau. The portrayals of the atmosphere, intrigues and characters in the court of ‘The Sun King’ are wonderful and the costumes and sets are amazing, this is a big period drama! But as you would expect the star is the music of Lully, and there is plenty of that.
The film is in French with English subtitles but is not really dialogue heavy so is pretty easy going if subtitles aren’t your thing. Its more an atmospheric and musical film which is befitting for the subject and a stunning soundtrack is available. Spectacular, fascinating and entertaining.