Bacchus (opera)

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Bacchus
Opera by Jules Massenet
Jules Massenet by Eugene Pirou.jpg
The composer, Jules Massenet, photographed by Eugène Pirou, 1895
Librettist Catulle Mendès
LanguageFrench
Based on Bacchus and Ariadne
Premiere
5 May 1909 (1909-05-05)

Bacchus is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Catulle Mendès after Greek mythology. It was first performed at the Palais Garnier in Paris on 5 May 1909.

Contents

The story is based on the mythology surrounding Bacchus and Ariadne (Ariane). The Gods, among them the demi-god Bacchus, appear in human form in ancient India to attempt to persuade the people away from the pervading Buddhist influence. Ariane has followed them, convinced that Bacchus is in fact Theseus, her unrequited love. In the end, Ariane sacrifices herself to save humanity and in doing so, Bacchus becomes a God.

Although not a proper sequel, as Ariane dies in both pieces, Bacchus is a companion to Massenet's earlier opera, Ariane. Of Massenet's twenty-five operas, Bacchus is probably the least known, without a modern performance history or single modern recording of even an excerpt.

The story of this opera is also related to that of Ariadne auf Naxos from Richard Strauss.

Roles

Lucy Arbell in the role of Queen Amahelli at the Theatre de l'Opera (Palais Garnier), during the creation of Bacchus in 1909. Photograph by Paul Nadar. Lucy Arbell as Queen Amahelli in Massenet's Bacchus, wide view.jpg
Lucy Arbell in the role of Queen Amahelli at the Théâtre de l'Opéra (Palais Garnier), during the creation of Bacchus in 1909. Photograph by Paul Nadar.
RoleVoice typePremière Cast [1]
Conductor: Henri Rabaud
Bacchus tenor Lucien Muratore
Ariane soprano Lucienne Bréval
Queen Amahelli mezzo-soprano Lucy Arbell
Révérend Ramavaçou [note 1] bass André Gresse
Kéléyï [note 2] soprano Antoinette Laute-Brun
Silène baritone Marcelin Duclos [note 3]
MahoudabaritoneTriadou
PournatenorNansen
AnandabaritoneCerdan
Manthra, a mimemute Blanche Kerval
Clothospoken roleBrille
Perséphonespoken role Renée Parny
Antérosspoken rolede Max
Chorus: Followers of Perséphone, Nuns, Monks, Warriors, Priests, Bassarides, Fauns, Bacchantes, Heavenly voices.

There are also a number of dance roles in the various ballets. [2]

List of musical numbers

[3]

Act I, The Underworld

Act II

Scene 1, in Nepal

Interlude: The Battle of the Monkeys"

Scene 2: After the Battle

Act 3

Scene 1: A Terrace of the Palace of the Sakias

Notes

  1. Full name given at Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. 30–1. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. Written "Kéléyi" in the cast list, but Kéléyï everywhere else, e.g. Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. Table of Contents. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  3. In the Act III ballet, Charles Javon substituted for Duclos. See Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. p. Front matter: Dances. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  4. In the Table of Contents, scenes without dialogue or vocal lines are generally (but not always) listed only by the main group performing them, in the same manner as the main singer is listed for the songs. The descriptions used here are summarised from the actions described in the score.

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References

  1. Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. Front matter. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. Front matter: Dances. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  3. Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. Table of Contents. Retrieved 1 August 2020. Additional clarifications, where needed, are referenced specifically.
  4. Details taken from Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  5. Details taken from Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. 28–9. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  6. Details taken from Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. pp. 30–1. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  7. Details taken from Mendès, Catulle; Massenet, Jules (1909). Bacchus. Paris: Au Ménestrel / Heugel et Cie. p. 76. Retrieved 1 August 2020.