Mozart: Les Amours de Bastien et Bastienne

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WORKS: Les Amours de Bastien et Bastienne
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Calleo, Michael Slattery, Martin Winkler, Olivier Cesarini; Sylvain Groult, Aurélien le Glaunec, Cédric Lequileuc, Isira Makuloluwe, Yann Raballand (dancers); Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie/Laurence Equilbey; dir. Claude Buchvald (Rouen, 2007)


Heavily influenced by Ingmar Bergman’s Die Zauberflöte, Anaïs and Olivier Spiro’s intimate film of Claude Buchvald and Dominique Boivin’s Opéra de Rouen production of Les amours de Bastien et Bastienne is an extrapolation of an extrapolation.

The starting point is the prepubescent Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne, music originally written for a parody of Rousseau, to which conductor Laurence Equilbey has added brief excerpts from the Serenades (K100), Dances (K509, K586, K600, K602), Divertimento (K151) and the enchanting song Die Zufriedenheit (K389).

Its singer, boy-treble Olivier Cesarini, is our guide to a world of artifice and nature, flirtation and infatuation, and (perhaps) a personification of the precocious 12-year-old composer.

Reading late into the night, he creeps out from his bedroom into the bowels of an empty theatre, pursued by a snuffling satyr – one of five furry-bottomed dancers whose bucking movements and unselfconcious sensuality create the backdrop to Bastien and Bastienne’s sentimental education under the tutelage of the magician Colas.

Given the weight of theory behind this project, the result is remarkably unaffected, if choppily edited. Equilbey’s interpolations fit ideally to the score and there is fun to be had in spotting prototypes of later Mozart characters.


As Bastien, Michael Slattery’s lyric tenor is a boyish mixture of Belmonte, Ferrando and Papageno, while Martin Winkler’s Colas balances charm and menace. The orchestral playing is stylish, the choreography exuberant. Anna Picard