Lully’s Idylle sur la Paix and Charpentier’s La Fête de Rueil are two pieces dictated by similar conditions: destined to be performed during lavish parties offered by ambitious courtiers to entertain Louis XIV and designed to celebrate the truce and the peace it was supposed to ensure.
Idylle sur la Paix, Photo Kathy Wittman, Boston Early Music Festival
NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston
November 24, 2022
These works knew very different fates: supported by Racine’s and by Lully’s official positions at court, the Idylle sur la Paix was given several performances, while La Fête de Reuil was never performed during Charpentier’s lifetime. Undeniably quintessential of the contrasted styles of the two composers, the works both remain today as testimonies of the taste of their patrons as much as expressions of the royal propaganda that was spreading all over France at the time. Functioning like portraits of the king and the kingdom, the two works were meant to support the monarch in his divine right to rule. Louis XIV does not exist anywhere else in a better light than with these representations, as they have no concern other than the peaceful and benevolent king.