Photo Journal: Swamp Thing on the Loose in Santa Fe

Classic Arts News   Photo Journal: Swamp Thing on the Loose in Santa Fe
And how can a swamp creature have washed up in New Mexico's high desert? It's Plat_e, a frog-like nymph who rules over a mythological marsh — and the heroine (if that's the word) of Jean-Philippe Rameau's comic opera Plat_e, which finishes up its run at Santa Fe Opera this week in a staging by Laurent Pelly from the Paris Opera.

The farce tells an invented story of how Jupiter, the famously philandering king of the gods, decides to play a trick on his wife, the famously jealous Juno: he puts word out that he is about to take a second wife at a high-spirited wedding presided over by Folly herself (and Folly is a coloratura soprano — who knew?); when the furious Juno swoops in and snatches off the bridal veil, she sees that her husband's presumptive bride is the soggy, green, misshapen Plat_e — and Jupiter says, in effect, "Kidding!" Plat_e, who fancies herself ravishingly beautiful (perhaps like a bastard child of Kermit and Miss Piggy), had been all too easily duped into playing along.

Starring as the titular swamp nymph is French tenor Jean-Paul Fouch_court, who has made the role a specialty. (Mark Morris, who has directed him in a different production of the opera, has said that "Jean-Paul is a genius —a genius — and could do the entire thing by himself.")

Bass Wilbur Pauley co-stars as Jupiter, with Ariana Chris as Juno, Leena Chopra as Cupid (here called L'Amour), Norman Reinhardt as Mercury and as Thespis (the original thespian), and Heidi Stober as Folly. Harry Bicket conducts.

Santa Fe Opera's Plat_e has its final performance on Wednesday, August 22.

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All photos by Ken Howard.

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