The historical-performance ensemble Les Talens Lyriques has devoted itself to Baroque opera and often to the revival of unfamiliar operatic scores. The group also performs works in other genres, many of them French.
Les Talens Lyriques was formed in 1991 by harpsichordist and conductor Christophe Rousset, who remains its director. It is supported not only by patrons but by the city of Paris and the French Ministry of Culture. The ensemble took its name from the subtitle of Rameau's 1739 opera Les Fêtes d'Hébé. Rameau, with such difficult-to-stage works as Les Indes galantes, with its Peruvian-Native American-Turkish setting, has indeed occupied a chunk of the ensemble's attention. Les Talens Lyriques has collaborated with a variety of directors, choreographers, and stage designers in its efforts to bring to life operas from the Baroque era and later. Performances and recordings by Les Talens Lyriques have ranged from Monteverdi (all the major operas and many madrigals and sacred works as well) and Cavalli (La Didone, La Calisto) to Handel (ten operas, including the rare Riccardo Primo).
Lully, whose operas have rarely been performed, has been represented by Persée, Roland, and Bellérophon, among others. Les Talens Lyriques has revived works by Desmarest (Vénus et Adonis), Mondonville (Les Fêtes de Paphos), Cimarosa (Il Mercato di Malmantile, Il Matrimonio segreto), Traetta (Antigona, Ippolito ed Aricia), Jommelli (Armida abbandonata), and Martin y Soler (La Capricciosa corretta, Il Tutore burlato). The group's repertory extends forward not only to Mozart (Mitridate, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Così fan tutte), but to his rival Salieri (La Grotta di Trofonio, Les Danaïdes, Les Horaces); not only to Beethoven, but to Cherubini (Médée), García (Il Califfo di Bagdad), Berlioz, Massenet, and even Camille Saint-Saëns. The group has served as artists-in-residence at the Singer-Polignac Foundation in Paris, and has devoted some of its energies to educational initiatives designed to introduce young people to Baroque music.
Les Talens Lyriques has released more than 50 albums on the Erato, FNAC Music, and Decca labels, among others. Perhaps the most publicly noted was the soundtrack album of the 1994 film Farinelli, depicting the great 18th century castrato. The year 2017 saw four new releases by Les Talens Lyriques, including a trio of Lully operas and a return to Farinelli in a live performance featuring mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg, and the year 2019 was similarly productive. In 2021, Les Talens Lyriques released an album featuring Antonio Salieri's rarely heard opera Armida.