Les Indes galantes

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Les Indes galantes is an opéra-ballet consisting of a prologue and four entrées (acts) by Jean-Philippe Rameau with libretto by Louis Fuzelier. The première, including only the first three entrées, was given by the Académie Royale de Musique at its theatre in the Palais-Royal in Paris on 23 August 1735 with Mlle Pélissier as Emilie, Mme Petitpas as Fatima, Mme Antier as Phani, Jelyotte as Valère and don Carlos, de Chasse as Huascar and Tribou as Tacmas. Dupré provided the choreography, which was danced by Mlles Mariette, LeBreton, Sallé, and Messieurs Dupré, Maltayre, DuMoulin, Javillier and Corps de Ballet. Chéron conducted. The Third "Entrée", known as the Entrée des Fleurs, was not well received and was revised after the fourth performance with Mlles Petipas as Fatima, Eremans as Atalide and Bourbonnais as Roxane, and Tribou as Tacmas.


On 25 November 1725, after French settlers in Illinois sent Chief Agapit Chicagou of the Metchigamea and five other chiefs to Paris, they met with Louis XV, and Chicagou had a letter read pledging allegiance to the crown. They later danced three kinds of dances in the Théâtre-Italien , inspiring Rameau to compose his rondeau Les Sauvages.[1]

Performance history[edit]

Louis Fuzelier und Jean-Philippe Rameau, Les Indes Galantes (1735/36)

At the revival of Les Indes galantes on 10 March 1736, the 30th performance of the work, a Fourth entrée was added, with Mme Pélissier as Zima, Jelyotte as Damon and Dun as don Alvar. The complete work was played for the 185th and last time in 1761.

Nevertheless, parts of it were revived from time to time: the Prologue in 1762 (20 performances) and 1771 (26 performances); the Entrée des Incas in 1771 (11 performances) and the Entrée des Sauvages in 1773 (22 performances). Thereafter, the Académie Royale (Paris Opéra) abandoned this work for 179 years. The Opéra-Comique presented the Third entrée, the Entrée des Fleurs, with a new orchestration by Paul Dukas, on 30 May 1925, with Yvonne Brothier as Zaïre, Antoinette Reville as Fatima, Miguel Villabella as Tacmas and Emile Rousseau as Ali, and Maurice Frigara conducting.

Finally, there was a reprise at the Opéra itself, the Salle Garnier of the Académie Nationale de Musique et Danse, with the Dukas orchestration supplemented for the other entrées with music by Henri Busser, the 186th performance, on 18 June 1952, with sets by Arbus, Jacques Dupont, Wakhévitch, Carzou, Fost, Moulène and Chapelain-Midy for a production by the Académie's own director, Maurice Lehmann.

In the 1st Entrée ("The Gracious Turk"), Jacqueline Brumaire sang Emilie, Jean Giraudeau was Valère and Hugo Santana was Osman. The dances were choreographed by the André Aveline and danced by Mlle Bourgeois and M Legrand. In the 2nd Entrée, ("The Incas of Peru"), Marisa Ferrer was Phani, Georges Noré was don Carlos, and René Bianco was Huascar. Serge Lifar choreographed what he himself danced, with Vyroubova and Bozzoni. The 3rd Entrée, ("The Flowers") had Janine Micheau as Fatima, side by side with Denise Duval as Zaïre. Giraudeau was Tacmas and Jacques Jansen, the famous Pelléas, was Ali.

Harald Lander choreographed this act, with Mlle Bardin as the Rose, Mlle Dayde as the Butterfly, Ritz as Zéphir and Renault as a Persian. The 4th Entrée, ("The Savages of America"), had Mme Géori Boué, as Zima, with José Luccioni as Adario, Raoul Jobin as Damon and Roger Bourdin as don Alvar. Lifar again choreographed the dancing for this act, executed by Mlles Darsonval, Lafon and Guillot and Messieurs Kalioujny and Efimoff. Louis Fourestier conducted.

In total, there were 246 performances of the revival by the end of 1961.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, August 23, 1735
(Conductor: - )
Hébé soprano Mlle Eremans (also spelled Erremans)
L' Amour soprano en travesti Mlle Petitpas
Bellone baritone en travesti Cuignier
Act 1
Emilie soprano Marie Pélissier
Valère haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Osman baritone Jean Dun "fils"
Act 2
Phani soprano Marie Antier
Don Carlos haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Huascar bass Claude-Louis-Dominique Chassé de Chinais
Act 3
Fatime soprano Mlle Petitpas
Zaïre soprano Mlle Eremans
Tacmas haute-contre Denis-François Tribou
Ali baritone Person
Act 4
Zima soprano Marie Pélissier
Adario tenor (taille) Louis-Antoine Cuvillier (or Cuvilier or Cuvelier)
Damon haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Don Alvar bass Jean Dun "fils"



Hébé and Bellone extol the pleasures of a personified Amour (Love).

Entrée I - Le turc généreux (The Gracious Turk)[edit]

Valère has been roaming the world seeking his love, Emilie, captured by Valere's former servant Osman. When he finds them both, a repentant Osman releases his captive so that she may be reunited with her former lover.

Entrée II - Les incas du Pérou (The Incas of Peru)[edit]

Represents the rivalry of the Inca Huascar and the Spaniard Don Carlos, both in pursuit of Princess Phani. A wonderful eruption of a volcano is the central moment of this act.

Entrée III - Les fleurs (The Flowers)[edit]

A Persian love intrigue in which Prince Tacmas is in love with his favourite, Ali's, slave Zaïre. Tacmas's slave Fatime in turn is in love with Ali. (In the Toulouse version of 2012, Zaïre and Ali do not appear. Instead the four roles are Roxane, Fatime, Atalide and Tacmas.)

Entrée IV - Les sauvages (The Savages)[edit]

The setting is Illinois, where Don Alvar, a Spaniard, and Damon, a Frenchman, compete for the love of Zima, daughter of a native chief, who prefers one of her own people.


  • Soloists, chorus and orchestra conducted by Jean-Claude Malgoire (recorded in 1973) on 3 Columbia LPs, ASIN: B006DQL43W
  • Gerda Hartman, Jennifer Smith (sopranos); Louis Devos, John Elwes (tenors); Philippe Huttenlocher (baritone). The Ensemble Vocal à Coeur-Joie de Valence and the Orchestre Jean-François Paillard, Valence conducted by Jean-François Paillard (recorded in 1974). ERATO 4509-95310-2
  • Miriam Ruggeri (soprano), Bernard Delétré (bass), Howard Crook (tenor), Nicolas Rivenq (baritone), Noémi Rime (soprano), Sandrine Piau (soprano), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor), Jérôme Corréas (baritone), Isabelle Poulenard (soprano), Claron McFadden (soprano). The Ensemble of Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie (recorded in 1991). Duration 3 hours 13 mins. Harmonia Mundi 901367
  • Nathan Berg, Valérie Gabail, Nicolas Cavallier, Patricia Petibon, Paul Agnew, Jaël Azzaretti, Danielle de Niese, Anna Maria Panzarella, Nicolas Rivenq. The Ensemble of Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie (filmed in 2003 in Paris). Released on 2 DVDs. BBC/Opus Arte Catalog No. 923
  • Valérie Gabail, Stéphanie Révidat, Reinoud Van Mechelen, François-Nicolas Geslot, Aimery Lefèvre, Sydney Fierro, Chorus and Orchestra of La Simphonie du Marais, conducted by Hugo Reyne (Musiques à la Charbotterie, 3 CDs, 2014)

Separately, Camille Maurane (on Philips) and Gérard Souzay (on Decca) have left recorded performances of Huascar's Invocation au Soleil from the Peruvian Entrée, a seminal piece in the history of French musical drama.




  • Spire Pitou, The Paris Opéra - An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers - Rococo and Romantic 1715-1815, Westport (Connecticut), Greenwood Press, 1985 (ISBN 0-313-24394-8)
  • Wolff, Stéphane: L' Opéra au Palais Garnier, 1875-1962 Paris, Entr'acte, 1962.

Online sources

External links[edit]