Didon (Desmarets)

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Didon is a tragédie en musique or opera in a prologue and five acts by composer Henri Desmarets. The work uses a French language libretto by Louise-Geneviève Gillot de Saintonge. The opera was heavily influenced by Jean-Baptiste Lully's Armide and the music of both Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Henri Dumont.

Performance history[edit]

Didon was premiered successfully by the Académie Royale de Musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris on 5 June 1693. The work was reprised on the following 11 September in the presence of Louis, Grand Dauphin, and revived again on the Paris stage in 1704 and 1705.[1]

On 10 July 1999 the first modern revival of the opera was mounted at the Festival de Beaune by Les Talens Lyriques with conductor and harpsichordist Christophe Rousset. They presented the opera later that year at the Arsenal de Metz and the L'Opéra of the Palace of Versailles. The performance from Versailles on 9 October 1999 was broadcast live on France Musique, and a CD of the live recording was later issued. The German premiere of the opera took place at the Kiel Opera House in 2007.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 5 June 1693[3]
Didon, Queen of Carthage soprano Marie Le Rochois
Énée haute-contre Louis Gaulard Dumesny
Iarbe, King of Gaetulia bass Jean Dun
Anne soprano Fanchon Moreau
Barcé soprano Françoise Dujardin
Magician soprano Julie d'Aubigny
Pleasure haute-contre Antoine Boutelou
Glory soprano
Fame soprano Marie-Catherine Poussin
Jupiter bass Labbé
Mercure taille Claude Desvoyes
Mars bass Charles Hardouin
Vénus soprano Françoise Dujardin
Servant of Sychée bass
Arcas taille Poussin
Acate bass Moreau
Furie soprano
Three nymphs sopranos
Two dryads sopranos
Two Carthaginians hautes-contres
A faun bass


Although betrothed to Iarbe, Didon is in preparation to wed Énée. Humiliated and dreading the impending wedding, Iarbe contacts his father, the god Jupiter. Jupiter promises him vengeance and Énée is forced to leave for the conquest of Italy. Didon and Énée lament their parting. Carthage comes under the pressure of the god Mercury. Didon loses all hope, becomes insane, and commits suicide.


  1. ^ *Thompson, Shirley (2010). New Perspectives on Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. p. 259. 
  2. ^ "Didon". operabaroque.fr. 
  3. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Didon, 5 June 1693". Almanacco Amadeus (in Italian).