The Ensemble Les Talens Lyriques, taking its name from the subtitle of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera
Les Fêtes d’Hébé (1739), was formed in 1991 by the harpsichordist and conductor Christophe Rousset.
Championing a broad vocal and instrumental repertoire, spanning the period from early Baroque to the beginnings of Romanticism, the musicians of Les Talens Lyriques aim to throw light on the great masterpieces of musical history, while providing perspective with rarer or little known works that are important as missing links in the European musical heritage. This musicological and editorial work, which contributes to its renown, is a priority for the ensemble.
The repertoire of Les Talens Lyriques includes works by Monteverdi (L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’Orfeo), Cavalli (La Didone, La Calisto), Landi (La Morte d’Orfeo), Handel (Scipione, Riccardo Primo, Rinaldo, Admeto, Giulio Cesare, Serse, Arianna in Creta, Tamerlano, Ariodante, Semele, Alcina, Agrippina, Saül), Lully (Persée, Roland, Bellérophon, Phaéton, Amadis, Armide, Alceste, Isis), Desmarest (Didon, Vénus et Adonis), Mondonville (Les Fêtes de Paphos), Cimarosa (Il Mercato di Malmantile, Il Matrimonio segreto), Traetta (Antigona, Ippolito ed Aricia), Jommelli (Armida abbandonata), Martin y Soler (La Capricciosa corretta, Il Tutore burlato), Mozart (Mitridate, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte), Salieri (La Grotta di Trofonio, Les Danaïdes, Les Horaces, Tarare, Armida), Rameau (Zoroastre, Castor et Pollux, Les Indes galantes, Platée, Pygmalion), Gluck (Bauci e Filemone, Alceste, Orphée et Eurydice), Beethoven, Cherubini (Médée), García (Il Califfo di Bagdad), Berlioz, Massenet, Gounod (Faust), Saint-Saëns, and others.
The re-creation of these works goes hand in hand with close collaboration with stage directors and choreographers: Pierre Audi, Jean-Marie Villégier, David McVicar, Eric Vigner, Ludovic Lagarde, Mariame Clément, Jean-Pierre Vincent, Macha Makeïeff, Laura Scozzi, Natalie van Parys, Marcial di Fonzo Bo, Claus Guth, Robert Carsen, David Hermann, Christof Loy, Jetske Mijnssen, Alban Richard, David Lescot or Phia Ménard.
Les Talens Lyriques explore not only opera, but other genres as well: secular madrigals, cantatas, airs de cour, symphonies, and the vast corpus of sacred music (masses, motets, oratorios, Leçons de Ténèbres and so on). Varying in size from just a handful of musicians to over sixty, representing every generation, the ensemble appears all over the world.
Les Talens Lyriques’ 2020-2021 season, ELLES, is to be a tribute to women. These various programmes have in common the fact of focusing on a female figure, as the main character in an opera or other work, and at the same time therefore on the female artist portraying that part. The Baroque and Classical periods are rich in strong, single-minded female figures. Courage, loyalty, devotion, unconditional love are virtues embodied by Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo and the Virgin Mary in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s St. John’s Passion and Händel’s Messiah. Armida (Armida by A. Salieri) and Venus (Ballet royal de la naissance de Vénus by J.B. Lully, La Naissance de Vénus by P. Collasse) are among the figures who never ceased to fascinate during the Baroque period with their magnetic charm and the power they wield through their very emancipation and their certainty of overcoming their prey, however warlike.
For this new season, Christophe Rousset calls in remarkable female performers: Ann Hallenberg (Music for a While), Sandrine Piau (Stabat Mater), Judith van Wanroij (Idomeneo) and many others.
The Ensemble’s rich discography comprises some sixty references on various labels (Erato, Fnac Music, Auvidis, Decca, Naïve, Ambroisie, Virgin Classics, Ediciones Singulares (Palazzetto Bru Zane), Outhere and Aparté). Les Talens Lyriques recorded the famous soundtrack for Gérard Corbiau’s film Farinelli (1994), which sold over a million copies. Released in September 2019, Gounod’s Faust (PBZ) has received numerous awards: Gramophone Choice, Presto Musical editor’s choice, Diapason d’or, Choc Classica 2019… Stefano Landi’s La Morte d’Orfeo, recorded at the Dutch National Opera, was released by Naxos in June 2020.
In 2020-2021, Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques will be pleased to release recordings of masterpieces such as Mozart’s Betulia liberata (Aparté), Armand-Louis Couperin’s pièces de clavecin (Aparté), and Salieri’s Armida (Aparté).
Since 2007 the musicians of the ensemble have been working on a project aimed at introducing schoolchildren to music through a programme of ambitious artistic actions and innovative educational initiatives. They are in residence in schools in Paris and the Paris region (Île-de-France), where they have created an orchestra class and a small choir, known as “Le petit chœur des Talens”. The three t@lenschool educational applications (downloadable free of charge) have met with much enthusiasm and have received several national and international awards.
The ensemble Les Talens Lyriques receives subsidies from the French Ministry of Culture – DRAC Île-de-France, the City of Paris, and generous support from its Circle of Patrons. The ensemble wishes to thank its principal Patrons, the Annenberg Foundation / GRoW – Gregory and Regina Annenberg Weingarten, Madame Aline Foriel-Destezet, and Mécénat Musical Société Générale.
Since 2011 Les Talens Lyriques have been associate artists, in residence at the Singer-Polignac Foundation in Paris.
Les Talens Lyriques are founding members of FEVIS (Federation of Specialised Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles) and of PROFEDIM (Professional Union of Music Producers, Festivals, Ensembles, and Independent Distributors).