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Is this the French Così fan tutte? No one knows for sure whether or not Mozart was present at the early performances of Philidor’s Les Femmes Vengées but it’s a known fact that he was staying in Paris at the time, and there are distinct mirror-reflections between Così and the earlier comic work. Our new release of this irresistible opéra-comique is in the highly capable hands of Ryan Brown and Opera Lafayette, world-leaders in the performance of Philidor’s music.

“Philidor, whose fame and genius in the 18th century extended to both chess and music, is known for the phrase “pawns are the soul of chess.” Indeed, his characterization of ordinary folk in ensembles on the chess board of life is the soul of his music-making as well! Whether he’s writing a trio for three lamenting ladies (“Consolez-vous”), or one in which two philanderers are surprised by the sudden arrival of the husband of the woman they are wooing (“Quel Plaisir,” interrupted by “Ciel, mon mari!”), or a quartet in which the tables are turned on the men as they are forced to witness one of their wives being seduced through a crack in a locked door (“Quoi, vous pleurez”), Philidor’s music for Les Femmes Vengées is always inventive and vibrant.”

- Ryan Brown

  PHILIDOR, F.-A. D.: Femmes Vengées (Les) [Opéra-comique]
Opera Lafayette Orchestra, R. Brown

The first performances of Les Femmes Vengées (The Avenged Women) in 1775 restored the fortunes of Francois-André Danican Philidor, which had been wavering since the great success of Tom Jones a decade earlier. His opéra-comique, which foreshadows the plot of Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Mozart had been in Paris during the first performances of Philidor’s work), offers delicious opportunities for mock-indignation and repartee in its arias and ensembles. This recording presents the complete music. Opera Lafayette and Ryan Brown’s recording of Philidor’s Sancho Pança[8.660274] was hailed as a ‘witty, authentic interpretation’ by the American Record Guide.

Listen to an extract from Les Femmes Vengées:

About the Artists

Ryan Brown is the founder, conductor and artistic director of Opera Lafayette. Through his work with Opera Lafayette, he has gained an international reputation for his interpretations of French opera and for his rôle in the revival of significant works from the 18th and 19th centuries. He recently received wide acclaim for his modern première performance and recording of Félicien David’s 1862 Lalla Roukh, a seminal work of musical orientalism. In 2014 he directed Opera Lafayette in Philidor’s Les Femmes Vengées and Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the Opéra Royal in Versailles.

Opera Lafayette is an American period-instrument ensemble that specialises in French repertoire, rediscovers masterpieces, and creates a recorded legacy of its work. Founded in 1995 in Washington, DC, by conductor and artistic director Ryan Brown, Opera Lafayette has earned critical acclaim and a loyal following for its performances and recordings with international singers renowned for their interpretations of baroque and classical operas. Opera Lafayette’s season includes performances at major venues in Washington, DC and New York City. At the invitation of Château de Versailles Spectacles, Opera Lafayette made its international début at the Opéra Royal in February 2012 with the modern world première of Monsigny’s Le Roi et le fermier.

Other recordings by Ryan Brown and Opera Lafayette

Lalla Roukh

“One can simply sit back and enjoy a sequence of delightful numbers... Clear, atmospheric recording…”

Orphée et Euridice
(1774 Paris version)

“Lyricism takes precedence over visceral drama in this elegantly performed reading of Gluck’s perennial opera, heard here in its little-known Paris version.”
Classic FM

The Tragedy of Armide

“As he has shown in other Naxos issues such as Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, conductor Ryan Brown excels at period style, spirited pacing and a canny economy with fragile resources.”
Opera News

Le Magnifique

“The recording is a delight, with youthful voices in full cry. Conductor Brown keeps the music light.”
American Record Guide

Le Déserteur

“The singers for this recording were well chosen, their voices are pleasant and attractive, and they have good French diction.”
American Record Guide

Sancho Pança

“The singers are a worthy lot, producing charming, witty, authentic interpretations to be enjoyed over and over again.”
American Record Guide

Operatic arias

“An overdue showcase for a stalwart on the French Baroque opera scene”

Le Roi et le fermier

“In a fine, all-round display, this little gem of an opera draws praiseworthy results from the cast and orchestra, with conductor Ryan Brown galvanizing proceedings.”
International Record Review

Zélindor, roi des Sylphes
Suite from Le Trophée

“Under director Ryan Brown, the Washington, D.C.-based ensemble Opera Lafayette brings a graceful, stylistically sure touch to a pair of French divertissements by François Rebel and François Francoeur.”
Opera News

Oedipe à Colone

“This is a major issue, one that does more than justice to one of the most important neglected operatic works of the 18th century. As such, it is an obligatory addition to the library of anyone interested in the genre.”

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