70. Cadmus et Hermione (Jean-Baptiste Lully)

CADMUS ET HERMIONE Tragédie in 5 acts and a prologue Composer: Jean-Baptiste de Lully Librettist: Philippe Quinault First performed: Paris, jeu de paume de Bel-Air, 27 April 1673 Dossier BACKGROUND The father of French opera was an Italian. The young Giovanni Battista Lulli accompanied Louis XIV’s cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d’Orléans, duchess of Montpensier, “the Grand Mademoiselle”, to France … Continue reading 70. Cadmus et Hermione (Jean-Baptiste Lully)

62. Olympie (Gaspare Spontini)

OLYMPIE Tragédie lyrique en 3 actes Composer: Gaspare Spontini Libretto : MM. Michel Dieulafoy, Eugène Briffaut, after Voltaire’s play (1761) First performed : Théâtre de l’Opéra, Paris, 22 December 1819, conducted by Rudolphe Kreutzer.  Revised Berlin, May 1821. Dossier The failure of Spontini's opera about the death of Alexander the Great left the composer vowing never to … Continue reading 62. Olympie (Gaspare Spontini)

61. Fernand Cortez (Gaspare Spontini)

FERNAND CORTEZ, OU LA CONQUÊTE DE MÉXIQUE Tragédie lyrique in 3 acts Composer: Gaspare Spontini Libretto: Étienne de Jouy and Joseph-Alphonse Esménard, after Alexis Piron’s play First performed: Opéra de Paris [Académie Impériale de Musique] (salle Montansier), 28 November 1809, conducted by Jean-Baptiste Rey Dossier My friend Phil has just reviewed this work on his Opera … Continue reading 61. Fernand Cortez (Gaspare Spontini)

59. Les Troyens (Hector Berlioz)

Poëme lyrique in 5 acts Composer & librettist: Hector Berlioz, after books II & IV of Virgil’s Æneid Composed 1856-1858. First performed: Acts III-V (with cuts), as Les Troyens à Carthage, Théâtre Lyrique, Paris, 4 November 1863.  Concert performances of Acts I-II (La prise de Troie), Paris, 7 December 1879.  First staged performance: Karlsruhe, Germany, 1890. Dossier   … Continue reading 59. Les Troyens (Hector Berlioz)

36. Richard Cœur de Lion (André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry)

Comédie in 3 acts, in prose, mixed with ariettes By André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry Libretto: Michel-Jean Sedaine First performed: Opéra-Comique (1re salle Favart), 21 October 1784 Dossier Richard Cœur-de-lion (Richard the Lionheart, for Anglophones) is a rarity today, but was one of the classics of French opera, by one of the most celebrated opera composers of his … Continue reading 36. Richard Cœur de Lion (André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry)

29. Carmen – Georges Bizet

CARMEN Opéra-comique in 4 acts By Georges Bizet Libretto: Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, after Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen (1845) First performed: Opéra-Comique, Paris, 3 March 1875 Reception: Disastrous.  Now the third most popular opera in the world. Dossier (characters, musical structure). Contemporary reviews. CHARACTERS Carmen, gypsy (mezzo-soprano) Don José, brigadier (tenor) Escamillo, toreador (bass-baritone) Micaëla, peasant … Continue reading 29. Carmen – Georges Bizet

24. Béatrice et Bénédict (Hector Berlioz)

Opéra-comique in 2 acts Music and libretto by Hector Berlioz, after Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing First performed: Theater Baden-Baden, Germany, 9 August 1862 Dossier STORY BÉATRICE, Léonato’s niece (mezzo-soprano) HÉRO, Léonato’s daughter (soprano) URSULE, Héro’s maid in waiting (contralto) BÉNÉDICT, Sicilian officer, Claudio’s friend (tenor) CLAUDIO, Don Pedro’s aide de campe (baritone) DON PÉDRO, … Continue reading 24. Béatrice et Bénédict (Hector Berlioz)