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“In re-discovering L’épreuve villageoise, I was taken by its deceptive simplicity and wit. Evidently much of the world was too, as it was one of Grétry’s most popular works, performed in Paris for 100 years after its première, and brought to many other cities. This included 19th-century New Orleans, where we set our production. We hope this première recording shines a welcome ray of light on the composer, much like the beautiful sunrise the chorus of villagers extol in his work’s extraordinary finale.”

Ryan Brown, conductor

GRÉTRY, A.-E.-M.: Épreuve villageoise (L') (The Village Trial) [Opéra bouffon]
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André-Ernest-Modeste GRÉTRY (1741–1813)
L’épreuve villageoise
An opéra bouffon in two acts
Libretto by Pierre Desforges

Sophie Junker, Talise Trevigne, Sopranos
Francisco Fernández-Rueda, Tenor
Thomas Dolié, Baritone
Opera Lafayette
Ryan Brown

L’épreuve villageoise (The Village Trial) – which, in its original form as Théodore et Paulin, was first performed before Marie Antoinette at Versailles – was one of André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry’s most popular works. For a century after its 1784 première it enjoyed huge acclaim across Europe and even travelled to the New World, where it captivated audiences in New York. Grétry was a master of eighteenth-century opéra comique and this crisp and lively farce centres on a clever farmer’s daughter and her two competing suitors. Employing divergent stylistic registers – finesse and naiveté, music reminiscent of popular song, and extended ensembles – Grétry fashioned a score of sophisticated wit and huge charm.

Listen to an extract from
the Finale to Act I

Listen to Raymond Bisha's podcast
about this release

About the Artists
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown is the founder, conductor and artistic director of Opera Lafayette. Through his work with the company, he has gained an international reputation for his interpretations of French opera and for his role in the revival of significant works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Recent Opera Lafayette programmes have included a production of Rameau’s Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les Dieux d’Égypte notable for its integration of three different dance companies, as well as rediscovered operas from the period of the French Revolution.
Opera Lafayette
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, D.C. 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.
Other recordings from Ryan Brown and Opera Lafayette
Magnifique (Le) [Opera]

Gonzalez Toro, Calleo, Krull, Thompson, Sulayman, Williams, Scarlata,
Opera Lafayette Orchestra, Brown
“Brown conducts with a light, deft hand: He evidently understands the French galante style very well.”
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Oedipe à Colone

Loup, Paulin, Getchell, Boutté, Blaise,
Opera Lafayette, Brown
“[This] recording of Oedipe à Colone represents one of those relatively rare instances where an “unearthed gem” reveals an opera that once rightfully belonged to the main course, rather than just an interesting side dish.” ★★★★★
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(Opera Lafayette, 2007)

Houtzeel, Getchell, Loup, Sharp, Monoyios, Dubrow, Boutté, Perry, McCulloch, McCredie, Opera Lafayette, Brown
“The instrumental component of Opera Lafayette plays to perfection ... Ryan Brown paces the opera well … This Naxos recording currently has the field to itself.”
Buy now
Femmes Vengées (Les) [Opéra-comique]

Debono, Figueroa, Thompson, Opera Lafayette Orchestra, Brown
“The singers are a finely matched set, blending well in the frequent ensembles … The orchestra is a delight too.”
American Record Guide
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Lalla Roukh

Fiset, Gonzalez Toro, Paulin, Deletré, Newman, Adelsberger, Opera Lafayette, Brown
“…the Opera Lafayette Chorus and Orchestra under their artistic director Ryan Brown provide the vocalists with standout support. All together they give us a sensitive committed performance of an operatic rarity whose return to the stage was long overdue.”
Classical Lost and Found
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Le Déserteur

Sharp, Labelle, Monoyios, Newman, Opera Lafayette, Brown
“[Brown’s] lively and precise directing brings out all the color of this Déserteur
Opéra (France)
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