for soprano (d#’-g’’), oboe, hunting horn & bc
The present work is taken from the second book of cantatas, op. 67, of 1737.
Boismortier is not ranked with the most highly regarded composers of cantatas, but it is noteworthy that this work Actéon was mistakenly attributed to Rameau, and even included in a collected edition of his works, and this must be a tribute to its quality. Actéon has a typical structure of six movements alternating Recitative and Air. The obbligato instruments, oboe and cor de chasse, reflect the hunting context of Acteon’s metamorphosis. While out hunting he gets separated from the hunt, and chances upon Diana bathing: in her outrage she transforms him into a stag, who is then set upon by his own hunters. The part for the cor de chasse can easily be taken by the oboe in this rather hearty air without sacrificing too much musical colour.
The excruciating ‘moral’ of the last Air is that Acteon suffered his fate through timidity – he should have ‘moved in' fast on the goddess! This is musically however the most elegant and lyrical of the airs.