Atys : tragedie mise en musique

Atys : tragedie mise en musique

Date: 1720
Creator: Lully, Jean Baptiste, 1632-1687 & Quinault, Philippe, 1635-1688
Description: Atys, which premiered on 10 January 1676, is the first of the tragédies lyriques of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Philippe Quinault to have a tragic ending. As the Prologue indicates, the tragedie itself is a divertissement to ease the king's mind of his impending duties. Joyce Newman, in Jean-Baptiste de Lully and his Tragédie Lyriques, summarizes the message of the story in this way: "In [Atys], Quinault shows how actions which are not in accord with the noble ideal will bring defeat and punishment. Not only is love in opposition to glory in this opera, but also it is shown that if love is place more highly than honor, it will bring unhappiness even to one of the immortals."
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Thetis et Pelée; tragédie en musique

Thetis et Pelée; tragédie en musique

Date: 1716
Creator: Collasse, Pascal, 1649-1709 & Fontenelle, M. de (Bernard Le Bovier), 1657-1757
Description: Pascal Collasse was one of the few opera composers able to secure successful performances in the years following Lully’s death. Collasse then went on to supply the music for the entire opera, Thétis et Pélée, which was premiered at the Paris Opéra on 11 January 1689. Thétis remained popular throughout Collasse’s lifetime, in spite of its rather weak plot. Owing to its success is primarily the music, including a significant storm scene in Act II. This departure from the Lullian tradition is perhaps Collasse’s most significant contribution to the tradition of French opera.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Atys : tragédie lyrique en trois actes

Atys : tragédie lyrique en trois actes

Date: 1781
Creator: Piccinni, Niccolò, 1728-1800; Quinault, Philippe, 1635-1688 & Marmontel, Jean François, 1723-1799
Description: The story of Atys was first known operatically through Lully’s opera that premiered in 1676 at the court of St Germain-en-Laye. Marmontel adapted Quinault’s libretto and modified it by removing the prologue and divertissements. He also altered the plot; in lieu of Ovid’s metamorphic ending (to which Quinault had adhered), Atys commits suicide.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Iphigenie en Aulide; tragédie. Opera en trois actes

Iphigenie en Aulide; tragédie. Opera en trois actes

Date: 1811
Creator: Gluck, Christoph Willibald, Ritter von, 1714-1787 & Du Roullet, François Louis Gaud Lebland, marquis, 1716-1786
Description: Although he did not have a production planned, Gluck composed the music for Iphigénie en Aulide for Paris, with the intention (along with Roullet) of establishing himself at the Opéra. He initially had difficulties convincing the Academy of Music to arrange for the production, but with the support of Marie Antoinette, the opera was finally realized in 1773. Gluck revised Iphigénie for performances in 1775. The most significant change was the addition of Diana as a character, whose appearance serves as the deus ex machina of the plot. He also altered and expanded the divertissements.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Colonie : opéra comique en deux actes

Colonie : opéra comique en deux actes

Date: 1776
Creator: Sacchini, Antonio, 1730-1786 & Framery, Nicolas Etienne, 1745-1810
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Barbe bleue : comédie en prose et en trois actes

Barbe bleue : comédie en prose et en trois actes

Date: 1789
Creator: Grétry, André Ernest Modeste, 1741-1813 & Sedaine, 1719-1797
Description: Although the story of Bluebeard was familiar to French readers from Charles Perrault’s 1698 collection of children’s tales, transferring it to the operatic stage was problematic due in large part to the gruesome nature of the plot. Other violent works had appeared in Paris, but in this instance, the drama was to be performed at the Comédie-Italienne, which typically featured lighter plots than that of Raoul and Isaure. Nevertheless, the opera had a successful run, receiving over a hundred performances in the decade after its premiere. After its initial popularity, Raoul Bluebeard was staged less frequently, but it still made an impression on nineteenth-century composers, particularly Weber.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Echo et Narcisse, drame lyrique en trois actes

Echo et Narcisse, drame lyrique en trois actes

Date: 1779
Creator: Gluck, Christoph Willibald, Ritter von, 1714-1787 & Tschudi, Jean-Baptiste-Louis-Théodore, baron de, 1734-1784
Description: After the resounding success of Iphigénie en Tauride (1779), Gluck set out to compose his last of the seven Paris operas, which turned out to be his final opera. Whereas Iphigénie en Tauride is often considered Gluck’s best opera, its immediate successor, Echo et Narcisse (1779) was ill-fated and quickly disappeared from the repertoire. Echo was premiered a mere four months after Tauride, and the Parisian audience was not prepared for the differences between these two operas. Although the music resembles that of his other French operas, the pastoral story lacks the dramatic intensity that viewers expected in a Gluck opera. Thus, the serene music—though it is at times quite beautiful— lacks dramatic impulse.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Orphée et Euridice; tragédie; opéra en trois actes

Orphée et Euridice; tragédie; opéra en trois actes

Date: 1783
Creator: Gluck, Christoph Willibald, Ritter von, 1714-1787 & Moline, M. (Pierre Louis), ca. 1740-1821
Description: The Viennese premiere of Orfeo was extremely well received, and Gluck decided to revise the opera as Orphée et Eurydice for Paris in 1774, with the French adaptation and additions provided by Pierre Louis Moline. The role of Orpheus was lowered slightly for an haute-contre singer (a male operatic voice type more in line with an alto range), adhering to French preferences. The opera was lengthened, to create a more magnificent spectacle, with extra arias, ensembles, and instrumental numbers. Gluck also modified the orchestration to accommodate the orchestra at the Académie Royale de Musique. This version, Orphée et Eurydice, became one of the most popular operas in France.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Colinette à la cour ou La double épreuve : comédie lyrique en trois actes

Colinette à la cour ou La double épreuve : comédie lyrique en trois actes

Date: 1782
Creator: Grétry, André Ernest Modeste, 1741-1813 & Lourdet de Santerre, Jean Baptiste, 1732-1815
Description: A comparison of the scores for Colinette à la cour and Barbe-bleue illustrates the primary distinguishing factor between the genres of comédie lyrique and opera comique: the method of dialogue delivery. In Paris, the issue of genre was tied to the performance venue of a particular opera, due to government regulations. Although comic opera was traditionally presented with spoken dialogue, as in opera comique, when Grétry composed for the Opéra, where recitative was expected, he merged comic subject matter with the sung dialogue heard in serious opera.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
Omphale, tragedie en musique

Omphale, tragedie en musique

Date: 1701
Creator: Destouches, M. (André Cardinal), 1672-1749
Description: Omphale (1701) is one of Destouches’s contributions to the Lullian genre of the five-act tragédie en musique. Half a century after the premiere, Friedrich Melchior Grimm targeted the opera in his pamphlet “Lettre sur Omphale” (1752), which continued the earlier debate between advocates of Lully and Rameau. This written attack also precipitated the famous guerre des bouffons, which was sparked by a performance of Pergolesi’s La serva padrona (1733) in 1752.
Contributing Partner: UNT Music Library
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