© Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française
An admirer of Mozart and a great reformer of music education at the recently opened Paris Conservatoire (1795), Charles-Simon Catel composed in 1810 Les Bayadères, an operatic masterpiece set in India, which competed successfully with Spontini’s La Vestale, which was then at the height of its popularity. Tinged with orientalism, it turns the page on Classicism and uses new musical and dramatic structures to create emotion. In a work full of action and excitement, the heroine of the opera, the bayadère Laméa – a ‘star’ role (then a new concept) – shows remarkable presence. On his arrival in Paris in the 1820s, the young and very discerning Hector Berlioz was filled with enthusiasm by this work.