Tragédie en musique

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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 Opera in the French tradition

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 Italian-born French composer

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 mythology both the body of and the study of myths from the ancient Greeks and Romans as they are used or transformed by cultural reception

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.

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Notable examples of the genre

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 17th and 18th-century French composer of the Baroque era

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (French: [maʁk ɑ̃.twan ʃaʁ.pɑ̃.tje]; 1643 – 24 February 1704 was a French composer of the Baroque era.

<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.

Jean-Marie Leclair Baroque violinist and composer

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.

List of works in this genre (Baroque era)

Jean-Baptiste Lully

<i>Cadmus et Hermione</i> opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully

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.

<i>Alceste</i> (Lully) opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully

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.

<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.

Works by Lully's sons

<i>Orphée</i> (Louis Lully) opera by Louis Lully

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.

<i>Alcide</i> (opera) opera by Marin Marais and Louis Lully

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.

Paolo Lorenzani

Pascal Collasse

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.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Henri Desmarets

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.

<i>Circé</i> (Desmarets) opera

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.

Marin Marais

Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

Charles-Hubert Gervais

André Cardinal Destouches

André Campra

Theobaldo di Gatti

Jean-Féry Rebel

François Bouvard

Louis Lacoste

Toussaint Bertin de la Doué

Jean-Baptiste Stuck

Joseph François Salomon

Jean-Baptiste Matho

Jean-Joseph Mouret

François Francoeur and François Rebel

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer

Michel Pignolet de Montéclair

Jean-Philippe Rameau

Charles-Louis Mion

François Colin de Blamont

Jean-Marie Leclair

Marquis de Brassac

Antoine Dauvergne

Jean-Benjamin de La Borde

Jean-Joseph de Mondonville

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