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For the town in France, see Thésée, Loir-et-Cher.

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[1] 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: – )
Æglé soprano Marie Aubry
Médée soprano Saint-Christophe
Minerve soprano Des Fronteaux
Grande Prêtresse de Minerve soprano Marie Verdier
Thésée haute-contre Bernard Clédière
Egée baritone Jean Gaye
First Pleasure baritenor Langeais
Bacchus taille La Grille
Venus soprano Beaucreux
Cérès soprano de La Borde
Mars bass Godonesche
Cleone soprano Marie-Madeleine Brigogne
Arcas bass Antoine Morel
Dorine soprano Mlle Beaucreux
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)


  1. ^ Most sources give the date of the premiere as 11 January, but the listing of performances of Thesée at césar gives the date as 12 January.

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