Zaïs

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Zaïs is an opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau first performed on 29 February 1748 at the Opéra in Paris. It takes the form of a pastorale héroïque in four acts and a prologue. The librettist was Louis de Cahusac.

The score is particularly remarkable for its overture, which depicts the emergence of the four elements out of chaos. It looks back to Jean-Féry Rebel's ballet Les élemens and forward to Haydn's overture for his oratorio The Creation.

Roles[edit]

  • Oromasès (King of Genies) - Bass
  • Une Sylphide (Air Spirit) - Soprano
  • L'Amour (Deity of Love) - Soprano
  • Zaïs (Genie disguised as a shepherd) - Tenor
  • Cindor (Consort to Zaïs) - Bass
  • Zélidie (Shepherdess & love interest to Zaïs) - Soprano
  • La Grande-Prêtresse (High Priestess of L'Amour) - Soprano

(The characters, Une Sylphide & La Grande-Prêtresse, could be played by the same soprano)

  • Chorus (portrayed as a chorus of: Genies, Sylphes & Sylphides, Shepherds, Priestesses and Hunters & Huntresses)

Chorus consists of: Dessus 1 & 2, Hautes-contre, Tailles & Basses (soprano 1 & 2, alto and/or high tenor, tenor or baritone & basses, respectively). Modern interpretation of voicing realized from the score and feasibility in range with historic context in consideration.

Synopsis[edit]

Zaïs, a genie, disguises himself as a shepherd to win the love of a shepherdess, Zélide. After a series of ordeals in which Zaïs shows he is willing to give up his magic powers for his love, Oromases, the king of the genies, grants Zélide immortality so the couple can marry.

Recording[edit]

References[edit]

Sources
  • Girdlestone, Cuthbert, Jean-Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work, New York: Dover, 1969 (paperback edition)
  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Sadler, Graham (Ed.), The New Grove French Baroque Masters Grove/Macmillan, 1988