116. Médée (Charpentier)

Tragédie lyrique in a prologue and 5 acts Composer : Marc-Antoine Charpentier Libretto : Thomas Corneille First performed : Académie royale de musique, Paris, 4 December 1693 Lully was dead – and with him his monopoly over opera. For more than a decade, only he had been able to compose opera in France. He defined the tragédie lyrique, … Continue reading 116. Médée (Charpentier)

115. Armide (Lully)

ARMIDE Tragédie lyrique in prologue and 5 actsComposer : Jean-Baptiste LullyLibretto : Philippe QuinaultFirst performed : Académie royale de musique, théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris, 15 February 1686 Armide, Lully and Quinault’s final tragédie lyrique, is generally considered their masterpiece.  The critics, for once, are right.  If you listen to only one Lully, listen to this. We’ve been rather … Continue reading 115. Armide (Lully)

114. Roland (Lully)

Composer: Jean-Baptiste LullyLibretto: Philippe Quinault, after Aristo's Orlando FuriosoFirst performed: Versailles, 8 January 1685 Lully considered Roland his best opera. It certainly contains some of his best music, but the story is insubstantial and over-extended. The opera is based on an episode in Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516), a chivalric romance full of warring Christians … Continue reading 114. Roland (Lully)

113. Amadis (Lully)

AMADIS (DE GAULE) Opéra in a prologue and 5 acts Composer: Jean-Baptiste Lully Libretto: Philippe Quinault First performed: Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris, January 1684 For the first time, French opera leaves the world of the Greek heroes and gods, for mediaeval romance. Amadis, like all good heroes of chivalry, is separated from his parents at … Continue reading 113. Amadis (Lully)

112. Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)

DIDO AND AENEAS Composer: Henry Purcell Libretto: Nahum Tate, after Virgil's Aeneid First performed: 1680s, after Blow's Venus and Adonis Dido and Aeneas is probably the best opera since Monteverdi. Purcell - "the English Orpheus" - and Lully were contemporaries. You can hear the Franco-Italian's influence on the overture (slow-fast-slow in the French style), in … Continue reading 112. Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)

111. Venus and Adonis (Blow)

VENUS AND ADONIS First performed: circa 1683 Composer: John Blow Libretto: Unknown, possibly Anne Kingsmill Opera in England began in the court of Charles II, the merry monarch who reopened theatres and restored enjoyment after the gloomy, god-fearing government of Oliver Cromwell. (Lord protect us from Protectors!) There had been masques, of course, since the … Continue reading 111. Venus and Adonis (Blow)