|Operas by Marin Marais|
Alcyone is an opera by the French composer Marin Marais. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Antoine Houdar de la Motte, is based on the Greek myth of Ceyx and Alcyone as recounted by Ovid in his Metamorphoses. The opera was first performed on 18 February 1706 by the Académie royale de musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. The score is particularly famous for the storm scene (tempête) in Act Four. The Marche pour les Matelots, also part of this movement, became popular as a dance tune and is the basis of the Christmas carol Masters in this Hall.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast|
|Pelée (Peleus)||baritone||Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard|
|Sommeil (Sleep)||haute-contre||Pierre Chopelet|
|Pan/Phorbas/Chief sailor||bass||Jean Dun "pére"|
|Tmole/High Priest/Neptune||bass||Charles Hardouin|
|Sailor/Morphée (Morpheus)||haute-contre||Louis Mantienne|
|Apollon (Apollo)||haute-contre||Jacques Cochereau|
Ceyx, King of Trachis, and Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus, are due to be married. Peleus, the best friend of Ceyx, is also in love with Alcyone. The wedding ceremony is disrupted by the magic of Phorbas, whose ancestors once ruled Trachis and who is bent on revenge against Ceyx.
Ceyx goes to Phorbas's cave to entreat him to stop his evil spells. But Phorbas tells Ceyx he must journey to the oracle of Apollo on the island of Claros to hear the god's verdict. In reality, this is a plan by Phorbas to bring about the death of Ceyx.
Ceyx sets sail from the port of Trachis. Phorbas tells Peleus that he has arranged the voyage so Peleus can be free to woo Alcyone for himself. But Peleus's conscience is troubled when he sees Alcyone faint at the departure of Ceyx.
Alcyone goes to the temple of Juno to pray for the safe return of Ceyx. She falls asleep and in a dream conjured up by Sommeil (Sleep) she sees a ship in trouble on a stormy sea.
Alcyone is full of foreboding. Peleus confesses his love for her and is so ashamed he offers to commit suicide. Alcyone sees a body washed up on the beach and, believing it is Ceyx, runs herself through with a sword. But Neptune restores the lovers to life and makes them responsible for calming the seas.
- Alcyone Jennifer Smith, Gilles Ragon, Philippe Huttenlocher, Les Musiciens du Louvre, conducted by Marc Minkowski (Erato, 1991)
- Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac
- Del Teatro (in Italian)
- Amadeus Online
- Booklet notes to the above recording.