Jephté (Jephtha) is an opera by the French composer Michel Pignolet de Montéclair. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts (because of its subject matter it was also styled a tragédie biblique). The libretto, by the Abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, is based on the Biblical story of Jephtha. The oratorio was first performed at the Académie royale de musique, Paris on 28 February 1732. It was the first opera in France using a story from the Bible to appear on a public stage. For this reason, Cardinal de Noailles banned performances of the work for a time. Montéclair made revisions for revivals of the work in March 1732 and April 1737.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast|
|Jephté||bass||Claude-Louis-Dominique Chassé de Chinais|
|Iphise||soprano||Catherine-Nicole Le Maure|
La Verité (Truth) chases away the false pagan gods, Apollo, Venus and Polyhymnia.
The high priest Phinée chooses Jephté as leader of the Israelites as they prepare to attack the people of Ephraim. Jephté vows to God to sacrifice the first person he sees on his return from battle if he is victorious.
The leader of the Ephraimites, Ammon, is a captive in Jephtha's palace. He refuses the urging of his follower, Abner, to escape because he has fallen in love with Jephtha's daughter, Iphise. Iphise guiltily confesses to her mother that she is in love with Ammon too. News arrives of Jephté's victory in battle.
Jephté is horrified when the first person he sees as he arrives home is Iphise. He tells her of his vow and she prepares herself to be sacrificed, in spite of Ammon's entreaties.
Iphise laments her fate but is resigned to death. Ammon swears he will lead his army to save her but she rejects his offer.
The Israelites prepare the sacrifice in the temple. Ammon and his men burst in but they are struck by a bolt of fire from Heaven. The priest Phinéé declares God is pleased with Iphise and her life is spared.
- Jephté (first version) Jacques Bona, Sophie Daneman, Nicolas Rivenq, Claire Brua, Mark Padmore. Les Arts Florissants, conducted by William Christie (Harmonia Mundi, 1992)
- The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)
- Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Jephté, 28 February 1732". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).