Formed in 1998, Le Poème Harmonique is a group of soloists, gathered around its artistic director Vincent Dumestre. Its artistic activity, centered on vocal and instrumental music of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, is regularly enriched by interaction with other disciplines. This, together with real teamwork—working together as a company—is Le Poème Harmonique’s hallmark in Baroque performance today.
Actors, dancers, circus artists, and puppeteers join Le Poème Harmonique’s singers and musicians in programs of chamber works (Le Ballet des Fées, Il Fasolo) and, since 2004, in large-scale stage productions, such as Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (a comédie-ballet by Molière and Lully; stage director Benjamin Lazar) and Baroque Carnival(directed by Cécile Roussat). For operatic performances, such as Lully’s Cadmus et Hermioneand Cavalli’s Egisto (both staged by Benjamin Lazar), Le Poème Harmonique studies in depth the correspondences between period aesthetics—using candles for lighting, authentic gestures, and painted sets and machinery—and the aesthetics of modern stage productions. The ensemble also gets back to the sources of early French and Italian music by exploring its relationships with traditional or folk music; their recording entitled Aux Marches du Palaisis devoted to French songs of oral tradition.
Twenty-five percent of Le Poème Harmonique’s activity takes place in the Haute-Normandie Region. But since it was founded the ensemble has made many concert tours in Europe and has appeared in most of the continent’s capitals. Outstanding events of the past seasons include Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Baroque Carnival, and Cadmus et Hermione, all of which have been exceptionally successful, with almost 130 performances. The ensemble’s recent stage projects have included the first performances of Pagliardi’s Caligula, in September 2011 at the International Puppet Festival in Charleville-Mézières, and of Cavalli’s Egisto in February 2012 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, then at the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie. Also, in 2013–2014, as part of its residency there, Le Poème Harmonique will be presenting Purcell’s Dido and Æneas at Rouen Opéra. In 2014–2015, again with the Opéra-Comique and Rouen Opéra, the ensemble will be performing Le Malade imaginaire, the play by Molière, with music by Charpentier. The ensemble’s recordings for the Alpha label have met with rare public success, including the Grand Prix du Disque from l’Académie Charles Cros, the Diapason d’Or, a Prelude Classical Award in 2003, the Antonio Vivaldi International Award (Cini Foundation, Venice), the Caecilia Press Prize, and recommendations from Opéra International, Classica, and Le Monde de la Musique.