Stratonice – criticism


Opéra-comique in 1 act

By Étienne Nicolas Méhul

Libretto : François-Benoit Hoffman, after De Dea Syria (attributed to Lucan)

First performed : Théatre Favart, Paris, 3 May 1792

For my review, see here.

For more information about the opera, including roles and numbers, see the dossier.

Félix Clément, Dictionnaire des opéras, 1869

This play is one of those that does the most honour to Hoffman’s literary talent, and Mehul was not only capable of feeling its beautiful verses, but of making them admirably worthy.  Stratonice is his third work; it was the one that consecrated his reputation.  The quartet has a nobility and a breadth of style which have made it rank among the masterpieces.  As for the aria: Versez tous vos chagrins dans le sein paternel, after its success on stage, it obtained that of the concerts and the salons, interpreted especially by Ponchard whose piece of choice it was.

Hector Berlioz, Feuilleton du Journal des Débats, 16 September 1851

Mehul wrote Stratonice a little later, where he had to paint the sorrows of the great concentrated love that gives death.  We must cite in this work first the opening, a charming invocation to Venus, the air “Versez tous vos chagrins,” the quartet of the consultation, “Je tremble ! mon cœur palpite !”, during which Erasistrate the physician, at the sight of the disturbance Stratonice’s presence causes the dying Antiochus, discovers the young prince’s passion for her, and recognizes the cause of his illness; and also Eristrate’s fine aria, and King Séleucus’s phrase, so true and touching:

Accepte de ma main ta chère Stratonice,
Et par le prix du sacrifice
Juge de tout l’amour que ton père a pour toi !