An intriguing “imaginary opera”, Passion marks the return of Véronique Gens to the music of the French Baroque with all the characteristic intelligence and incisive feeling for its vivaciously ornamented style that has marked her out as one of its most expressive exponents.

Véronique Gens
Structured in five notional acts, it draws heavily on the operas of Jean-Baptiste Lully with contributions from Charpentier, Desmarets and their all-but forgotten contemporary, Pascal Collasse. The result focuses on the vocally demanding rôles de baguette (stick roles) – so called because of the use of props (sceptre, cane and wand) to define status and narrative function – prevalent in French opera at the time.

Filtered through three ‘characters’ – Gens, Ensemble Les Surprises and the chorus, Les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles – the result is a compelling fabrication that serves as much as an homage to the first voices (detailed in an informative booklet note) to sing these thrilling exercises in emotional...