Drawing on Greek-Roman mythology, the subject of Les Boréades was inspired by the love between the nymph Orithie and Boréas: the two Boréades were born out of their relationship. Rameau’s tragedy contains everything that can possibly be packed into the plot of a five-act Baroque opera: secrets, seduction, disguises, love, an enchanted arrow, a prophecy, revenge, a storm, earthquake, attempted suicide, deus ex machina – and finally, a happy end. An international company of singers present the work in the company of Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra, under the baton of György Vashegyi.
Going by the dramatic character of the interludes, the use of wondrous elements and spectacular mechanical solutions it is possible to assume that the libretto was written by Louis de Cahusac (1706–1759); similarly, the subject of the work and character of the figures all point to the Freemason playwright and librettist who worked in partnership with the composer on several other works. Les Boréades (1763) is the last of five so-called tragédie lyrique pieces that are in the oeuvre of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764), and at the same time it is one of the composer’s latest music stage works. The piece was rehearsed at the Paris Opera in 1763 although it never actually debuted in front of an audience in the composer’s lifetime. Les Boréades was given a concertante performance in Paris on 1 October 1964, then its stage version was presented in Aix-en-Provence, directed by John-Eliot Gardiner, on 21 July 1982. Since then it has appeared on the programmes of the most prestigious opera houses time and time again. Among the performers including world stars, several singers have been involved – on more than one occasion – with productions of Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra founded three decades ago by György Vashegyi (and led by him since then), the leading artistic figure of period performance practice in Hungary.