Henri Desmarets – 7 September 1741) was a French composer of the Baroque period primarily known for his stage works, although he also composed sacred music as well as secular cantatas, songs and instrumental works.(February 1661
Henri Desmarets was born into a modest Paris household in February 1661. His mother, Madeleine née Frottier, came from a bourgeois Parisian family. His father, Hugues Desmarets was a huissier in the cavalry at the Grand Châtelet. Desmarets' childhood was marked by his father's death when he was eight years old, his mother's subsequent remarriage in 1670, and the death of his two siblings. In 1674, he entered into the service of King Louis XIV as a page and choir singer in the Chapelle Royale (Chapel Royal). According to Duron and Ferraton, he may have also previously sung as a choir boy in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois which was the parish church of the kings of France.While in the service of the king, he received a general education as well as music training from Pierre Robert and Henry Du Mont. He is also thought to have received training from the court composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, who used the chapel pages as performers in his operas. By 1680 he had become an "ordinaire de la musique du roi" (court musician) and had composed the first of his grand motets (Te Deum 1678). The idyll-ballet which he composed in August 1682 to celebrate the birth of the king's grandson, the Duke of Burgundy, found great favour at court and the following year he entered the competition to select four maîtres (masters) of the Chapelle Royale. He was only 22 at the time and according to some accounts, the King had vetoed his selection after he had passed the first round on account of his youth.
After the competition, Desmarets petitioned the king to allow him to leave France for study with Italian composers, but Lully objected on the grounds that it would diminish his command of the French style. Desmarets remained at the court and made money by "ghost-writing" works for one of the composers who had won the competition, Nicolas Goupillet.Goupillet was dismissed from his post ten years later when the deception came to light. In the meantime, Desmarets continued to find favour with his own compositions, most notably his motet Beati quorum (1683); his divertissement , La Diane de Fontainebleau (1686) and his first full-length opera, Endymion (1686). The first performance of Endymion was in the king's private apartments at Versailles, performed in parts over six days. The Dauphine was so pleased with it that at her request it was performed again in its entirety at the court theatre ten days later. Desmarets was increasingly gravitating towards stage works, but Lully's monopoly of the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris (granted by the king) meant that operas by other composers were not presented there until after his death in 1687.
Desmarets' Te Deum was performed in the oratory of the Louvre Palace in February 1687 to celebrate Louis XIV's recovery from illness, and later that year the king granted him a pension of 900 livres. Desmarets married Élisabeth Desprez, the daughter of a Parisian blade manufacturer, in 1689, and the following year their daughter, Élisabeth-Madeleine was born. He became the Chapel Master of the Jesuit college Louis-le-Grand in 1693 and premiered his opera Didon in June of that year. It was the first of his stage works to be performed at the Académie Royale de Musique. Over the next two years three more of his operas premiered there: Circé (1694), Théagène et Cariclée (1695), and Les amours de Momus (1695).
In the summer of 1696, Élisabeth Desmarets died, leaving him with their six-year-old daughter to bring up. Desmarets became a frequent visitor to the Saint-Gobert family in Senlis, who offered to help him take care of Élisabeth-Madeleine. Both families had been friends since 1689, and Desmarets had given singing lessons to their daughter, Marie-Marguerite, when she was fifteen. During these visits, Desmarets and the now eighteen-year-old Marie-Marguerite fell in love and within six months of his wife's death, they asked her father for permission to marry. He flatly refused and put his daughter in a convent when he discovered that she was pregnant. In the midst of all this, Desmarets was preparing his opera Vénus et Adonis for its 1697 premiere. The lovers eloped to Paris and Marie-Marguerite gave birth to a son in February 1698.
After the elopement, nearly three years of complicated court cases ensued with Marie-Marguerite's father, Jacques de Saint-Gobert, accusing her mother, Marie-Charlotte de Saint-Gobert, of complicity in the affair. She in turn accused her husband of attempting to poison her. Saint-Gobert disinherited his daughter and had Desmarets charged with seduction and kidnapping. Desmarets and Marie-Maguerite fled to Brussels before he could be arrested, leaving his opera Iphigénie en Tauride unfinished. He was eventually condemned to death in absentia in May 1700. With no possibility of returning to France, Desmarets took a position in Spain as the court composer to Philip V. There he and Marguerite were officially married. He left Spain in 1707 to become the master of music at the court of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine at the Château de Lunéville. (At the time, Lorraine was not officially part of France.) While he was in exile, his friends Jean-Baptiste Matho and Anne Danican Philidor kept his artistic reputation alive in France by ensuring that his works continued to be performed and published there. André Campra completed Iphigénie en Tauride for him and it premiered in Paris in 1704.
Desmarets was finally pardoned by the French Regent in 1720, and his second marriage was officially recognized. He applied to become the master of the Chapelle Royale at the court of Louis XV in 1726, but was unsuccessful and remained in Lorraine for the rest of his days. Desmarets died in Lunéville on 7 September 1741 in his 80th year and was buried there in the convent church of the Sisters of Saint Elisabeth. Marie-Marguerite had died fourteen years earlier. Only two of their many children survived them, Francois-Antoine (1711–1786), who became a high-ranking official in Senlis and Léopold (1708-1747), who became a cavalry officer and for many years was the lover of novelist and playwright Françoise de Graffigny. Desmarets' daughter from his first marriage, Élisabeth-Madeleine, took care of him in his old age and died a few months after her father.
Both the music and the text for some of the works listed here have been lost. In other cases, only the libretto remains.
Antoine Houdar de la Motte was a French author.
Acis et Galatée is an opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully. Unlike most of his operas, which are designated tragédies en musique, Lully called this work a pastorale-héroïque, because it was on a pastoral theme and had only three acts compared to the usual five. Otherwise, there is little musically or dramatically to distinguish it from Lully's tragédies.
Nicolas-François Guillard was a French librettist. He was born in Chartres and died in Paris, the recipient of a government pension in recognition of his work writing librettos. He was also on Comité de Lecture of the Paris Opéra. One of the foremost of the French librettist of his generation, he wrote libretti for many noted composers of the day, including Salieri and in particular Sacchini. His most famous work is Iphigénie en Tauride, his first libretto, set by Gluck after the composer had initially rejected it. Gluck collaborated with Guillard to heavily recast the libretto, not only to suit Gluck's artistic preferences, but also to accommodate pre-existing music that Gluck borrowed, both from himself and from other composers, when composing the opera.
Idoménée is an opera by the French composer André Campra. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. Idoménée was first performed on 12 January 1712 by the Académie royale de musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. The libretto, by Antoine Danchet, is based on a stage play by Crébillon père. It later formed the basis of Giambattista Varesco's libretto for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Idomeneo.
Alcine is an opera by the French composer André Campra. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Antoine Danchet, is based on cantos IV, VI and VII of Ariosto's epic poem Orlando furioso and tells of the love of the enchantress Alcine for the paladin Astolphe (Astolfo).
Iphigénie en Tauride is an opera by the French composers Henri Desmarets and André Campra. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto is by Joseph-François Duché de Vancy with additions by Antoine Danchet. Desmarets had begun work on the opera around 1696 but abandoned it when he was forced to go into exile in 1699. Campra and his regular librettist Danchet took up the piece and wrote the prologue, most of Act Five, two arias in Act One, an aria for Acts Two and Three, and two arias for the fourth act. The plot is ultimately based on Euripides' tragedy Iphigeneia in Tauris.
Callirhoé is an opera by the French composer André Cardinal Destouches. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Pierre-Charles Roy, is based on a story from The Description of Greece by Pausanias. The opera was first performed on December 27, 1712, by the Académie royale de musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. Destouches reworked the score for a revival on 22 October, 1743. This version ends abruptly with the death of Corésus.
Joseph-François Duché de Vancy was a French playwright.
Céphale et Procris is an opera by the French composer Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in five acts with an allegorical prologue. The libretto, by Joseph-François Duché de Vancy, is loosely based on the myth of Cephalus and Procris as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The opera was first performed by the Paris Opéra at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on 17 March 1694.
Vénus et Adonis is an opera in a prologue and 5 acts composed by Henri Desmarets to a libretto by Jean-Baptiste Rousseau. Based on the story of Venus and Adonis in Book X of Ovid's Metamorphoses, it was first performed by the Académie Royale de Musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris on 28 July 1697 with Marie Le Rochois and Louis Gaulard Dumesny in the title roles. Desmarets staged a major revival of the work with a new prologue at the court of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine in 1707. During the composer's lifetime, it was performed in Germany, Belgium, and France, but then fell into obscurity. Its first staging in modern times took place at the Opéra de Nancy on 28 April 2006.
Camille, reine des Volsques is an opera by the French composer André Campra, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 9 November 1717. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Antoine Danchet, is based on Virgil's Aeneid and concerns the Volscian queen Camilla.
Théagène et Chariclée is an opera by the French composer Henri Desmarets, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 12 April 1695. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Duché de Vancy, is based on the Ancient Greek novel Ethiopica by Heliodorus.
Circé (Circe) is an opera composed by Henri Desmarets to a libretto by Louise-Geneviève Gillot de Saintonge and first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 1 October 1694. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The piece concerns the sorceress Circe who appears in Greek mythology and in Homer's Odyssey.
Diomède (Diomedes) is an opera by the French composer Toussaint Bertin de la Doué, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 28 April 1710. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto is by Jean-Louis-Ignace de La Serre, Sieur de l'Anglade.
Pirithoüs is an opera by the French composer Jean-Joseph Mouret, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 26 January 1723. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto is by Jean-Louis-Ignace de La Serre.
Renaud, ou La suite d'Armide is an opera by the French composer Henri Desmarets, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 5 March 1722. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, is based on Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata. The opera is a sequel to Jean-Baptiste Lully's Armide (1686).
Scylla is a French-language opera by the composer Theobaldo di Gatti, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 16 September 1701. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto is by Joseph-François Duché de Vancy.
Alcides, ou Le triomphe d'Hercule is an opera by the French composers Louis Lully and Marin Marais, first performed on at the Académie Royale de Musique on 3 February 1693. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in five acts and a prologue. The libretto is by Jean Galbert de Campistron.
Télémaque, ou Les fragments des modernes is an opera by the French composer André Campra, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 11 November 1704. It is a pastichetragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts with a libretto by Antoine Danchet.
Amadis de Gaule is an opera by the French composers Jean-Benjamin de La Borde and Pierre Montan Berton, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique, Paris on 26 November 1771. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in five acts. The opera is a new setting of a libretto by Philippe Quinault, originally set by Jean-Baptiste Lully in 1684.