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Proserpine

Description: Libretto of the opera "Proserpine," by Philippe Quinolt; the plot is based on the story of the abduction of Proserpine and her descent into Hades, and also on Ovid's Metamorphoses, its original source. In the plot, Cerés, the goddess of the earth, summons the nymph Aréthuse to guard her daughter Proserpine. Aréthuse protests, and tells Cerés of her love for Alphée, the river god, but the anxious mother warns her she should not let her own feelings interfere with the assigned task. Alphée assumes that Aréthuse abandoned him to look after Proserpine. Taking advantage of the situation, Ascalaphe, Pluto's envoy, encourages Alphée's belief in Aréthuse's supposed infidelity; then, persuades both Alphée and Aréthuse into letting Pluto watch over Proserpine. Alphée and Aréthuse agree and as the lovers' attention wanders, Pluto seizes Proserpine and abducts her. Cerés learns of her daughter's abduction and in despair decides to withhold her gifts that give earth prosperity. When Alphée and Aréthuse finally reach Proserpine, they find that she has already eaten of the grain and tasted the fruit of the underworld, which condemned her to Pluto's control. Proserpine begs Pluto for mercy, but the love-stricken god refuses to free her. Pluto summons his judges and three furies, who support his claim to keep Proserpine with him, even at the cost of bringing devastation to earth. As Cerés laments, Alphée and Aréthuse approach to tell her that Proserpine is held by Pluto and that she is now the queen of the underworld. Cerés calls Jupiter and demands the return of daughter. Mercure descends and tells Cerés that the gods heard her plea and reached a compromise to allow Proserpine to be Pluto's wife and queen, while spending several months of each year with her mother. The title page contains a lithograph illustration of a winged ...
Date: 1680
Creator: Quinault, Philippe, 1635-1688.
Item Type: Book

Proserpine; tragedie

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.
Date: 1680
Creator: Lully, Jean Baptiste, 1632-1687 & Quinault, Philippe, 1635-1688