Ercole amante (Hercules in Love, French: Hercule amoureux) is an opera in a prologue and five acts by Francesco Cavalli. The Italian libretto was by Francesco Buti, based on Sophocles' The Trachiniae and on the ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It was first performed on 7 February 1662 in Paris at the Salle des Machines in the Tuileries.
The opera was a commission from Cardinal Mazarin to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain. However, the grand preparations for the production resulted in delays and the opera was presented two years later.
To cater to French taste eighteen ballet entrées and intermèdes with music by Isaac de Benserade and Jean-Baptiste Lully were inserted, mostly at the ends of acts. These were not merely diversions, but also served to further the plot.
After its premiere the opera was given another seven times: 14 and 18 February; 18, 22, 25, and 29 April; and 6 May. The theatre was built specifically to present the opera, and if the construction costs of the theatre are included, it was the most expensive of the French court's theatrical productions mounted up to that point.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 7 February 1662|
|Deianira, Ercole's wife||soprano||Leonora Ballarini|
|Hyllo, son of Ercole||tenor||Giuseppe Agostino Poncelli|
|La bellezza||soprano||Anne de La Barre|
|Giunone||soprano castrato||Antonio Rivani|
|Shade of King Laomedonte||tenor||Vulpio|
|Shade of Bussiride||contralto||Zanetto|
|Shade of Queen Clerica||contralto||Anne de La Barre|
- Clinkscale 1992; Coeyman 1998, p. 55.
- Coeyman 1998, p. 55.
- (in Italian) Amadeus Almanac, accessed 26 October 2008
- Clinkscale, Martha Novak (1992), "Ercole amante" in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
- Coeyman, Barbara (1998). "Opera and Ballet in Seventeenth-Century French Theatres: Case Studies of the Salle des Machines and the Palais Royal Theater" in Radice 1998, pp. 37–71.
- Radice, Mark A., editor (1998). Opera in Context: Essays on Historical Staging from the Late Renaissance to the Time of Puccini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 9781574670325.