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.
|Cast||Voice type||Premiere, 11 January 1675
( Conductor: – )
|Pleasures||haute-contre, taille (baritenor)||Langeais, Miracle|
|Un Jeu||basse-taille (bass-baritone)||François Beaumavieille|
|Cérès||soprano||de La Borde|
|Grande Prêtresse de Minerve||soprano||Marie Verdier|
|First old man||haute-contre||Tholet|
|Second old man||taille||Miracle|
The plot centers around a love triangle: Egée wants to marry his ward, princess Æglé, while the sorceress Médée wishes to marry the young warrior Thésée, but Thésée and Æglé love each other. Médée attempts to force the lovers to renounce each other: first by using her magic to bring Æglé to a place of torment, then by convincing Egée to have Thésée killed as a potential threat to his reign. But before Thésée can drink the poison he has been given, Egée realises that Thésée is his lost son. He then gives Æglé to Thésée. Médée takes vengeance by destroying the festive setting, but the goddess Minerve undoes this.
- Thésée, Howard Crook (Thésée), Laura Pudwell (Médée), Ellen Hargis (Æglé), Harry van der Kamp (Égée), Boston Early Music Festival Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Paul O'Dette and Stephen Stubbs (CPO, 3 CDs, 2007)
- Although the original libretto states the date of the premiere as 10 January, most sources give it as 11 January and the listing of performances of Thesée at césar gives the date as 12 January.
- According to original libretto.
- Original libretto: Thésée. Tragédie en Musique Ornée d'Entrées de Ballet, De Machines & de Changements de Theatre. Representée devant Sa Majesté à Saint Germain en Laye, le dixième jour de Ianvier 1675, Paris, Ballard, 1675 (accessible for free online at Gallica - B.N.F.)
- The New Grove French Baroque Masters, ed. Graham Sadler (Macmillan, 1986)
- The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)
- (French) Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac