Description: With Proserpine, composer Jean-Baptiste Lully returned to his collaboration with librettist Philippe Quinault, which had been interrupted when the poet was banned from Court for offending Madame de Montespan (the king's mistress) with unflattering references in Isis. By 1679, Quinault had been restored to favor. Proserpine was first performed at St. Germain-en-Laye in February of 1680. Though seventeenth-century audiences were familiar with the story of Proserpine being carried off into Hades from numerous ballets and stage plays, Quinault returned to the source in Ovid's Metamorphoses to embellish the plot. In addition to details drawn from Ovid, Quinault added some of his own, making Proserpine among the most convoluted of Lully's operas. While the prologue alludes to King Louis XIV in the guise of Jupiter, the play itself refers specifically to the king's recent victories over the Spanish and Dutch when Jupiter battles and defeats the giants. Robert Isherwood notes that Jupiter's trip to Phrygia may represent Louis' inspection of Flanders after its defeat in 1679.
Creator: Lully, Jean Baptiste, 1632-1687 & Quinault, Philippe, 1635-1688