Dardanus (opera)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the opera by Rameau. For the opera by Sacchini, see Dardanus (Sacchini).

Dardanus is a tragédie lyrique in five acts by Jean-Philippe Rameau. The French libretto was by Charles-Antoine Leclerc de La Bruère.

Performance history[edit]

It was first performed by the Académie de musique at its theatre in the Palais-Royal in Paris on 19 November 1739. It received 26 performances, mainly because of the support from Rameau's followers in the dispute between the styles of Rameau and Lully.

Critics accused Rameau's original opera of lacking a coherent plot. The inclusion of the sea monster also violated the French operatic convention of having a clear purpose for encounters with supernatural beings.

In 1744 (with help from Simon-Joseph Pellegrin),[1] and again in 1760, Dardanus was revised extensively in an attempt to correct its shortcomings. Large portions of the score were sacrificed in favour of plot but some scenes as arresting as the "Prison scene" (1744) were added in the process.

Dardanus was produced three times in the 20th century: in 1907 at the Opéra de Dijon, in 1979 at the Opéra de Paris, and finally in 1998, in a concert version, at the time of a recording (below) by Marc Minkowski. Another recent production is by Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux (2015) [2]

The American professional premiere, by the Wolf Trap Opera Company directed by Chuck Hudson, was given in July 2003 at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in suburban Virginia.[3] The opera was also produced in Sydney in November-December 2005, by Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, The Royal Academy of Music also staged Dardanus in London in 2006. In France it was revived again in October-November 2009, at Lille, Caen and Dijon, conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm and staged by Claude Buchvald.[4]


Role[5] Voice type[6] Premiere Cast,
19 November 1739[7]
(Conductor: - )
Vénus soprano M.lle Erémans (also spelled Erremans or Herémans)
l'Amour soprano M.lle Bourbonnais (also spelled Bourbonnois)
Dardanus, son of Electra and Jupiter haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Iphise, daughter of Teucer soprano M.lle Pélissier
Teucer, a King bass-baritone François Le Page (also spelled Lepage)
Anténor, a King bass-baritone M. Albert
Isménor, a magician bass-baritone François Le Page (also spelled Lepage)
a Phrygian man bass-baritone
a Phrygian woman soprano Marie Fel
First Dream soprano
Second Dream haute-contre Jean-Antoine Bérard[8]
Third Dream bass Jean Dun, fils
a Pleasure soprano
Retinue of Venus and Cupid, Sports and Pleasures, retinue of Jealousy, people, warriors, magicians, Phrygians, Dreams: choir
Dancing characters
Act 1 - Phrygian warriors: L. Javillier (a warrior), L. Dallemand (a Phrygian woman); Act 2 - Magicians: C. Maltaire (a magician);
Act 3: Phrygian people: L. Maltaire et M.lle Mariette (Phrygian man and woman);
Act 4: Air spirits: David Dumoulin and Marie Sallé (Dreams);
Act 5 - Sports and Pleasures, Charites: Louis Dupré, Matignon, M.lles Le Breton and Barbarine (Sports and Pleasures)


The original story is loosely based on that of Dardanus. However, in the opera, Dardanus is at war with King Teucer, who has promised to marry his daughter Iphise to King Anténor. Dardanus and Iphise meet, through the intervention of the magician Isménor, and fall in love. Dardanus attacks a monster ravaging Teucer's kingdom, saving the life of Anténor who is attempting, unsuccessfully, to kill it. Teucer and Dardanus make peace, the latter marrying Iphise.


  • 1980: Raymond Leppard recorded Dardanus with Frederica von Stade as Iphise but unfortunately omitted the prologue. Leppard otherwise followed the 1744 version of the opera. Also in the cast are Christiane Eda-Pierre, Georges Gautier, José van Dam, Roger Soyer, as well as Michael Devlin (bass-baritone).
  • 1998: Marc Minkowski recorded Dardanus with John Mark Ainsley as Dardanus, Véronique Gens as Iphise and Laurent Naouri as Anténor. Minkowski's Musiciens du Louvre used period instruments in this recording and Minkowski followed the original 1739 version of the opera with the addition of two numbers from the 1744 version. The recording has been described as "an invaluable addition to the Rameau discography".[9]
  • December 2005: In a collaboration between Cantillation and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, Pinchgut Opera of Sydney Australia presented the 1739 version of Dardanus informed in part by additions from the 1744 version. The role of Dardanus was played by British tenor Paul Agnew, with Paul Whelan as Antenor, Kathryn McCusker as Iphise and Stephen Bennett as Teucer. Conducted by Antony Walker, the performance was the first production of a Rameau opera in Australia on period instruments. The production was recorded by ABC Classics.



  1. ^ Sadler, p. 1077. Pellegrin's first name is wrongly reported as Pierre-Joseph
  2. ^ http://www.medici.tv/#!/dardanus-rameau-pichon-opera-national-bordeaux
  3. ^ "Dardanus: Wolf Trap Opera Company – Chuck Hudson, Stage Director: Opera-Theatre-Musicals". Chdirector.com. 18 July 2003. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Le bien public, supplement: Quartier Libre, 6 November 2009
  5. ^ sources: Sadler; Dizionario dell'opera.
  6. ^ the basse-taille parts are indicated as for bass-baritone
  7. ^ sources: Lajarte, Le magazine de l'opéra baroque, both accessed 5 February 2011
  8. ^ Le magazine de l'opéra baroque: In 1744 Bérard interpreted the role of Arcas, introduced in the second version of the opera, accessed 5 February 2011
  9. ^ Robert Levine, "Rameau’s Dardanus – Minkowski TEN Review at classicstoday.com


  • (French) Lajarte, Théodore, Bibliothèque Musicale du Théatre de l'Opéra. Catalogue Historique, Chronologique, Anecdotique, Paris, Librairie des bibliophiles, 1878, Tome I, ad nomen, pp. 191–92 (accessible online for free in Internet Archive)
  • Sadler, Graham, Dardanus (i), in Sadie, Stanley (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (I, pp. 1077–79), Grove (Oxford University Press), New York, 1997 (ISBN 978-0-19-522186-2)
  • (Italian) Mellace, Raffaele, Dardanus, in Gelli, Piero & Poletti, Filippo (ed.), Dizionario dell'Opera 2008, Milano, Baldini Castoldi Dalai, 2007, pp. 289-290, ISBN 978-88-6073- 184-5 (in Italian)
  • (French) Le magazine de l'opéra baroque
  • Rameau Le Site, Horvallis 2003-2010
  • Warrack, John and West, Ewan, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera New York: OUP: 1992 ISBN 0-19-869164-5

External links[edit]