Achille et Polyxène
Achille et Polyxène (Achilles and Polyxena) is a tragédie lyrique containing a prologue and five acts based on Virgil's Aeneid with a French libretto by Jean Galbert de Campistron. The opera's overture and first act were composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully, who died from a conducting injury before he could complete the score. The prologue and the remaining acts are the work of his pupil Pascal Collasse who finished the work, eight months after Lully's death on March 22, 1687. The opera was first performed on November 7, 1687, by the Paris Opera at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris.
Analysis of the libretto and music
The libretto for this opera differs from those of Lully's earlier works with Philippe Quinault. Typically, Lully would begin his operas with a lively prologue, but this work has a somber prologue in which the Muses lament the king's desire for military expansion. Another difference is the tragic and somber ending of this opera in Act V. Lully usually ended his operas with a rousing ensemble number but this opera closes with the suicide of the heroine. The end of Act IV, the wedding scene, does contain a vibrant ensemble number at its close which would be more in keeping with a typical finale of one of Lully's operas.
|Cast||Voice type||Premiere, November 7, 1687
(Conductor: - )
|Achille||haute-contre||Louis Gaulard Dumesny|
|Andromaque||soprano||Fanchon Moreau or Louison Moreau?|
|Polixène||soprano||Marie le Rochois|
To date, this opera has not yet been recorded, although individual selections have been recorded by various artists.
- The New Grove French Baroque Masters (Macmillan, 1986): article on Lully by Graham Sadler
- The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)
- Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac (in French)
- Amadeus Almanac