Tragédie en musique (French: [tʁaʒedi ɑ̃ myzik] , musical tragedy), also known as tragédie lyrique (French: [tʁaʒedi liʁik] , lyric tragedy), is a genre of French opera introduced by Jean-Baptiste Lully and used by his followers until the second half of the eighteenth century. Operas in this genre are usually based on stories from Classical mythology or the Italian romantic epics of Tasso and Ariosto. The stories may not necessarily have a tragic ending – in fact, most do not – but the works' atmospheres are suffused throughout with an affect of nobility and stateliness. The standard tragédie en musique has five acts. Earlier works in the genre were preceded by an allegorical prologue and, during the lifetime of Louis XIV, these generally celebrated the king's noble qualities and his prowess in war. Each of the five acts usually follows a basic pattern, opening with an aria in which one of the main characters expresses their feelings, followed by dialogue in recitative interspersed with short arias (petits airs), in which the main business of the plot occurs. Each act traditionally ends with a divertissement, offering great opportunities for the chorus and the ballet troupe. Composers sometimes changed the order of these features in an act for dramatic reasons.
French opera is one of Europe's most important operatic traditions, containing works by composers of the stature of Rameau, Berlioz, Gounod, Bizet, Massenet, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Messiaen. Many foreign-born composers have played a part in the French tradition as well, including Lully, Gluck, Salieri, Cherubini, Spontini, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Offenbach.
Jean-Baptiste Lully was an Italian-born French composer, instrumentalist, and dancer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered a master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in 1661.
Classical Greco-Roman mythology, Greek and Roman mythology or Greco-Roman mythology is both the body of and the study of myths from the ancient Greeks and Romans as they are used or transformed by cultural reception. Along with philosophy and political thought, mythology represents one of the major survivals of classical antiquity throughout later Western culture. The Greek word mythos refers to the spoken word or speech, but it also denotes a tale, story or narrative.
Apart from Lully, the most considerable writer of tragédies en musique is Rameau, whose five works in the form are considered the culminating masterpieces of the genre. The Viking Opera Guide refers to Marc-Antoine Charpentier's tragédie Médée as "arguably the finest French opera of the seventeenth century". In the eighteenth century, Jean-Marie Leclair's lone tragédie Scylla et Glaucus has been similarly praised. Other highly esteemed exponents are André Campra ( Tancrède , Idoménée ), Marin Marais ( Alcyone , Sémélé) and Michel Pignolet de Montéclair ( Jephté ).
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (French: [maʁk ɑ̃.twan ʃaʁ.pɑ̃.tje]; 1643 – 24 February 1704 was a French composer of the Baroque era.
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.
Jean-Marie Leclair l'aîné, also known as Jean-Marie Leclair the Elder, was a Baroque violinist and composer. He is considered to have founded the French violin school. His brothers Jean-Marie Leclair the younger (1703–77), Pierre Leclair (1709–84) and Jean-Benoît Leclair were also musicians.
Cadmus et Hermione is a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully. The French-language libretto is by Philippe Quinault, after Ovid's Metamorphoses. It was first performed on 27 April 1673 by the Paris Opera at the Jeu de paume de Béquet.
Alceste, ou Le triomphe d'Alcide is a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully. The French-language libretto is by Philippe Quinault, after Euripides' Alcestis. It was first performed on 19 January 1674 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal by the Paris Opera.
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.
Orphée (Orpheus) is an opera by the French composer Louis Lully, with contributions from his brother Jean-Baptiste Lully the Younger. It was first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 21 February 1690. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in five acts and a prologue. The libretto is by Michel Duboullay.
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.
Thétis et Pelée is an opera by the French composer Pascal Collasse, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 11 January 1689. It takes the form of a tragédie lyrique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto is by Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle.
Énée et Lavinie is an opera by the French composer Pascal Collasse, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 7 November 1690. It takes the form of a tragédie lyrique in a prologue and five acts.
Astrée is an opera by the French composer Pascal Collasse, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 25 November 1691. It takes the form of a tragédie lyrique in three acts. The libretto, by Jean de La Fontaine, is based on the romance Astrée by Honoré d'Urfé. The opera was a failure.
Didon is a tragédie en musique or opera in a prologue and five acts by librettist, Louise-Geneviève Gillot de Saintonge, and composer Henri Desmarets. The opera was heavily influenced by Jean-Baptiste Lully's Armide and the music of both Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Henri Dumont.
Circé (Circe) is an opera by the French librettist Louise-Geneviève Gillot de Saintonge, and composed by Henri Desmarets, 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 famously in Homer's Odyssey.
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.
André Campra was a French composer and conductor.
Antoine Dauvergne was a French composer and violinist.
André Cardinal Destouches was a French composer best known for the opéra-balletLes élémens.
Opéra-ballet is a genre of French Baroque lyric theatre that was most popular during the 18th century, combining elements of opera and ballet, "that grew out of the ballets à entrées of the early seventeenth century". It differed from the more elevated tragédie en musique as practised by Jean-Baptiste Lully in several ways. It contained more dance music than the tragédie, and the plots were not necessarily derived from classical mythology and allowed for the comic elements, which Lully had excluded from the tragédie en musique after Thésée (1675). The opéra-ballet consisted of a prologue followed by a number of self-contained acts, often loosely grouped around a single theme. The individual acts could also be performed independently, in which case they were known as actes de ballet.
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.
Pascal Collasse was a French composer of the Baroque era. Born in Rheims, Collasse became a disciple of Jean-Baptiste Lully during the latter's domination of the French operatic stage. When Lully died in 1687 leaving his tragédie en musique Achille et Polyxène unfinished, Collasse completed the last four acts of the score. He went on to produce around a dozen operas and ballets, as well as sacred music, including settings of the Cantiques spirituels of Jean Racine. His plan to establish his own opera house in Lille ended in failure when the theatre burnt down. He dabbled in alchemy with even less success. His musical style is close to that of Lully.
Scylla et Glaucus is a tragédie en musique with a prologue and five acts, the only surviving full-length opera by Jean-Marie Leclair. The French-language libretto by d'Albaret is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, books 10, 13 and 14. It was first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris on 4 October 1746.
Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard was a French operatic baritone.
Charles Hardouin was a French operatic baritone.
Françoise 'Fanchon' Moreau was a French operatic soprano who belonged to the Académie Royale de Musique, also a celebrated beauty who was a favourite of the Great Dauphin.
Dumesnil was a French operatic tenor. His surname is sometimes found spelt Duménil, Dumény, du Mény, or Du Mesny.
Marie Le Rochois was a French operatic soprano who belonged to the Académie Royale de Musique. She is often referred to as Marthe Le Rochois or simply La Rochois.
Françoise Journet was a French operatic soprano.
The abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin (1663 – 5 September 1745) was a French poet and playwright, a librettist who collaborated with Jean-Philippe Rameau and other composers.
Canente is an opera by the French composer Antoine Dauvergne, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique on 11 November 1760. It takes the form of a tragédie lyrique in five acts. It was Dauvergne's second work in the genre, following Énée et Lavinie (1758). Canente enjoyed 22 performances between its premiere and 11 January 1761.
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.
Marie-Louise Desmatins was a French soprano and creator of many roles in French Baroque opera. She performed in Jean Baptiste Lully's Persée (1682), Armide, Achille et Polyxène (1687), Thésée, Isis, Roland, Bellérophon, Alceste, as well as in Pascal Collasse's Enée et Lavinie (1690) and Thétis et Pélée, André Cardinal Destouches' Issé (1697), Henri Desmarets' Didon, André Campra's Iphigénie en Tauride (1704), and Marin Marais' Alcyone (1706).
Catherine-Nicole Lemaure or Le Maure was a French operatic soprano. In 1719, she joined the Paris Opera's chorus, and after 1723 she sang many leading and titular roles throughout a career noted for sudden and unpredictable retirements until her final retirement in 1744.