Callirhoé

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Callirhoé is an opera by the French composer André Cardinal Destouches. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. The libretto, by Pierre-Charles Roy, is based on a story from The Description of Greece by Pausanias (see Coresus). The opera was first performed on December 27, 1712, by the Académie royale de musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. Destouches reworked the score for a revival on 22 October, 1743. This version ends abruptly with the death of Corésus.

Roles[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast
Victoire (Victory) soprano Mlle Poussin
Astrée (Astraea)[disambiguation needed] soprano Mlle Heuzé
A follower of Astrée soprano Mlle Limbourg
Callirhoé, hereditary Princess of Calydon soprano Françoise Journet
The Queen of Calydon soprano Mme Pestel
Corésus, high priest of Bacchus bass-baritone Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard
Agénor, a Prince of Calydon, in love with Callirhoé haute-contre Jacques Cochereau
A woman from Calydon soprano Mlle Mignier
The priest of Pan bass-baritone Charles Hardouin
A dryad soprano Marie Antier
The oracle haute-contre Louis Mantienne
A shepherdess soprano Mlle Heuzé
Another shepherdess soprano Mlle Poussin
Bacchus ? M. de la Rosière

Synopsis[edit]

The High Priest Coresus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe (1765) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806)

Following the revised version of 1743.

Act One[edit]

Princess Callirhoé, heiress to the kingdom of Calydon, laments her fate. Her parents are forcing her to marry a man she loathes, Corésus, the high priest of Bacchus, when she is really in love with Agénor. The wedding ceremony of Corésus and Callirhoé is interrupted when the latter faints at the altar.

Act Two[edit]

Agénor declares his love for Callirhoé but the couple are surprised by the furious Corésus. Corésus calls on the priests of Bacchus and the people of Calydon to kill Agénor.

Act Three[edit]

Eager to put an end to the disturbances, Callirhoé's mother takes her daughter to consult the oracle of Pan. The god delivers his sentence: the blood of Callirhoé must be spilt or that of someone in love with her.

Act Four[edit]

Callirhoé is resigned to sacrifice herself for the good of the kingdom. But the people protest against the oracle and Agénor declares he is ready to die himself to save his beloved.

Act Five[edit]

Alone in the temple, Corésus ponders what action to take. If Agénor is sacrificed, then he will win Callirhoé but she will hate him for evermore. As Agénor and Callirhoé enter the temple, both eager to sacrifice themselves to save the other, Corésus stabs himself to death. The oracle is fulfilled: the blood of a man in love with Callirhoé has been spilt.

Recordings[edit]

  • Callirhoé (1743 version, without prologue) Stéphanie d'Oustrac, Cyril Auvity, João Fernandes, Le Concert Spirituel, conducted by Hervé Niquet (Glossa, 2007)

Sources[edit]

  • Original libretto: Callirhoé, Tragédie représentée pour la première fois par l'Académie Royale de Musique, Le Mardy vingt-septiéme Decembre 1712, Paris Ballard, 1712 (accessible for free online in gallica, Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
  • The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)
  • Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac
  • Amadeus Online
  • Booklet notes to the above recording.