Thésée (Gossec)

Last updated

Thésée (Theseus) is an opera by the composer François-Joseph Gossec, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opéra) on 1 March 1782. It is a setting of a revised version in four acts of a libretto by Philippe Quinault, originally set by Jean-Baptiste Lully in 1675.

François-Joseph Gossec French composer of operas

François-Joseph Gossec was a French composer of operas, string quartets, symphonies, and choral works.

Paris Opera the primary opera company of France

The Paris Opera is the primary opera and ballet company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d'Opéra, and shortly thereafter was placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully and officially renamed the Académie Royale de Musique, but continued to be known more simply as the Opéra. Classical ballet as it is known today arose within the Paris Opera as the Paris Opera Ballet and has remained an integral and important part of the company. Currently called the Opéra National de Paris, it mainly produces operas at its modern 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille which opened in 1989, and ballets and some classical operas at the older 1970-seat Palais Garnier which opened in 1875. Small scale and contemporary works are also staged in the 500-seat Amphitheatre under the Opéra Bastille.

Philippe Quinault French opera librettist

Philippe Quinault, French dramatist and librettist, was born in Paris.



CastVoice typePremiere
Églé, princess raised under the supervision of Égée, King of Athens soprano Antoinette Saint-Huberty
Cléone, confidante of ÉglésopranoGertrude Girardin
Arcas, confidant of Égéebasse-taille (bass-baritone)Moreau
Grande prêtresse de Minerve (high priestess of Minerva)sopranoChâteauvieux
Égée (Aegeus), King of Athensbasse-taille (bass-baritone) Henri Larrivée
Médée (Medea), a princess and enchantresssopranoFrançoise-Claude-Marie-Rosalie Campagne (called Mlle Duplant)
Dorine, confidante of MédéesopranoMlle Joinville
Thésée (Theseus), unknown son of Égée haute-contre Joseph Legros
Minerve (the goddess Minerva) sopranoChâteauvieux
Deux vieillards (two old men) tenor/basse-taille Étienne Lainez, Auguste-Athanase (Augustin) Chéron
Une vieille (an old woman) sopranoAnne-Marie-Jeanne Gavaudan (the elder)
Chorus: Priestesses of Minerva, followers of Égée, warriors, inhabitants of the Underworld, people of Athens, Furies


Act 1

Princess Églé is in love with Thésée and prays for his safe return from battle against rebels who are threatening King Égée of Athens. Égée enters victorious. He tells Églé he is in love with her, despite being betrothed to the sorceress Médée. Égée says he now intends to marry Médée to his son, whom he has hidden away at Troezen and has not seen for years. The Athenians celebrate their victory with a sacrifice to the goddess Minerva.

Act 2

Médée is in love with Thésée. She agree to let Égée break off their engagement so he can pursue Églé. Égée is jealous of Thésée's popularity with the people of Athens, who want to make him the king's heir because of his bravery in battle. Médée offers to help Thésée, who reveals to her that he is in love with Églé, provoking the sorceress to jealousy.

Act 3

Médée threatens Églé that she will use her magic against her if the princess does not renounce her love for Thésée and marry the king instead. She conjures up a vision of a terrifying desert full of monsters and also menaces Églé with demons from hell. Médée also says she will put Thésée's life in danger if Églé does not comply. She conjures a vision of the sleeping Thésée in which she threatens to sacrifice him with a knife. Thésée wakes and is perplexed by Églé's sudden coldness towards him. She explains she is trying to save his life. Thésée reveals that he is Égée's son from Troezen. Médée appears to relent and bless the betrothal of Thésée and Églé.

Act 4

In reality, Médée is still tortured by jealousy. She persuades Égée to kill Thésée, warning him that if he makes Thésée his heir the king will wrong his missing son. Égée hands Thésée a poisoned chalice but he recognises Thésée's sword and realises the young man must be his son. Just in time, he prevents Thésée from drinking the poison. He agrees to let Thésée marry Églé. Thwarted, Médée escapes only to reappear on a flying chariot pulled by dragons. She threatens to burn down the palace but the goddess Minerve prevents her and raises a magnificent new palace and the opera ends with rejoicing.

Minerva Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and defense

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. From the second century BC onward, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena, though the Romans did not stress her relation to battle and warfare as the Greeks did.


Guy Van Waas is a Belgian conductor, clarinetist and organist.


Related Research Articles

Theseus legendary king of Athens

Theseus was the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens. Like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, Theseus battled and overcame foes that were identified with an archaic religious and social order: “This was a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules”.

<i>The Mists of Avalon</i> novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon is a 1983 fantasy novel by American writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, in which the author relates the Arthurian legends from the perspective of the female characters. The book follows the trajectory of Morgaine, a priestess fighting to save her Celtic culture in a country where Christianity threatens to destroy the pagan way of life. The epic is focused on the lives of Gwenhwyfar, Viviane, Morgause, Igraine and other women of the Arthurian legend.

<i>Il re pastore</i> Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Il re pastore is an opera, K. 208, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to an Italian libretto by Metastasio, edited by Giambattista Varesco. It is an opera seria. The opera was first performed on 23 April 1775 in Salzburg in the Rittersaal of the Residenz-Theater in the palace of the Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo.

<i>Hippolytus</i> (play) ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides

Hippolytus is an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, based on the myth of Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The play was first produced for the City Dionysia of Athens in 428 BC and won first prize as part of a trilogy.

<i>Phèdre</i> play

Phèdre is a French dramatic tragedy in five acts written in alexandrine verse by Jean Racine, first performed in 1677 at the theatre of the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris.

<i>The King Must Die</i> book

The King Must Die is a 1958 bildungsroman and historical novel by Mary Renault that traces the early life and adventures of Theseus, a hero in Greek mythology. Naturally, it is set in Ancient Greece: Troizen, Corinth, Eleusis, Athens, Knossos in Crete, and Naxos. Rather than retelling the myth, Renault constructs an archaeologically and anthropologically plausible story that might have developed into the myth. She captures the essentials while removing the more fantastical elements, such as monsters and the appearances of gods. The King Must Die was lauded by critics, with New York Times reviewer Orville Prescott calling it "one of the truly fine historical novels of modern times." Renault wrote a sequel, The Bull from the Sea, in 1962.

<i>Teseo</i> opera by Georg Friedrich Händel

Teseo is an opera seria with music by George Frideric Handel, the only Handel opera that is in five acts. The Italian-language libretto was by Nicola Francesco Haym, after Philippe Quinault's Thésée. It was Handel's third London opera, intended to follow the success of Rinaldo after the unpopular Il pastor fido.


Heggra is a fictional character, and extraterrestrial monarch and supervillain in publications from DC Comics. The character first appeared in New Gods volume 1 #7, and was created by Jack Kirby.

<i>The Woman Who Rides Like a Man</i> book by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man is a fantasy novel by Tamora Pierce, the third in a series of four books, The Song of the Lioness. It details the knighthood of Alanna of Trebond as she lives in the Bazhir desert after becoming a knight.

<i>Médée</i> (Charpentier) tragedy of Marc Antoine Charpentier

Médée is a tragédie mise en musique in five acts and a prologue by Marc-Antoine Charpentier to a French libretto by Thomas Corneille. It was premiered at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris on December 4, 1693. Médée is the only opera Charpentier wrote for the Académie Royale de Musique. The opera was well reviewed by contemporary critics and commentators, including Sébastien de Brossard and Évrard Titon du Tillet, as well as Louis XIV whose brother attended several performances, as did his son; however, the opera only ran until March 15, 1694, although it was later revived at Lille.

<i>Hippolyte et Aricie</i> opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau

Hippolyte et Aricie was the first opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau. It was premiered to great controversy by the Académie Royale de Musique at its theatre in the Palais-Royal in Paris on October 1, 1733. The French libretto, by Abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, is based on Racine's tragedy Phèdre. The opera takes the traditional form of a tragédie en musique with an allegorical prologue followed by five acts. Early audiences found little else conventional about the work.

<i>Thésée</i> opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully

Thésée (Theseus) is a tragédie en musique, an early type of French opera, in a prologue and five acts with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and a libretto by Philippe Quinault based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. It was first performed on 11 January 1675 by the Paris Opera for the royal court at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and was first performed in public in April at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris.

<i>The Bull from the Sea</i> book by Mary Renault

The Bull from the Sea is the sequel to Mary Renault's The King Must Die. It continues the story of the mythological hero Theseus after his return from Crete.

<i>La virtù dei strali dAmore</i> opera

La virtù dei strali d'Amore is an opera in three acts by the Italian composer Francesco Cavalli to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini. It premiered at the Teatro San Cassiano, Venice in 1642 and was revived in Bologna in 1648.

<i>Iphigénie</i> play

Iphigénie is a dramatic tragedy in five acts written in alexandrine verse by the French playwright Jean Racine. It was first performed in the Orangerie in Versailles on August 18, 1674 as part of the fifth of the royal Divertissements de Versailles of Louis XIV to celebrate the conquest of Franche-Comté. Later in December it was triumphantly revived at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, home of the royal troupe of actors in Paris.

Hésione 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 the Greek myth of Hesione and Laomedon.

<i>Amadis de Gaule</i> (J.C. Bach) opera by Johann Christian Bach

Amadis de Gaule, or Amadis des Gaules, is a French opera in three acts by the German composer Johann Christian Bach. The libretto is a revision by Alphonse de Vismes of Amadis by Philippe Quinault, originally set by Jean-Baptiste Lully in 1684, which in turn, was based on the knight-errantry romance Amadis de Gaula (1508). Bach's opera was first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique, Paris on 14 December 1779. It followed the contemporary French fashion for resetting libretti by Quinault. The work was not a success with the Parisian public, mainly because it pleased neither the supporters of Gluck nor those of Piccinni, the two leading rival opera composers in France at the time. It was the last opera J. C. Bach composed.

Nephté is an opera by the French composer Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 15 December 1789. It takes the form of a tragédie lyrique in three acts. The libretto, by François-Benoît Hoffman, is set in Ancient Egypt but is based on the story of Camma, Queen of Galatia taken from the ancient historian Plutarch.

Aethra (mother of Theseus) mother of Theseus

In Greek mythology, Aethra or Aithra was a daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen and sister of Henioche. She was the mother of Theseus and of Clymene. Aethra was also called Pittheis after her father Pittheus.

<i>Céphale et Procris</i> (Grétry)

Céphale et Procris is an opera by André Grétry with a French-language libretto by Jean-François Marmontel based on the Classical myth of Cephalus and Procris as told in Book Seven of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It takes the form of a ballet héroïque in three acts. It was first performed at the Palace of Versailles on 30 December 1773.