Le temple de la Gloire

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Le temple de la Gloire (The Temple of Glory) is an opéra-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau with a libretto by Voltaire. The work was first performed in a five-act version on 27 November 1745 at the Grande Écurie, Versailles to celebrate the French victory at the Battle of Fontenoy. It transferred, unsuccessfully, to the Paris Opéra on 7 December 1745. A revised version, in a prologue and three acts, appeared at the Opéra on 19 April 1746.

Roles: 1745 version[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast
Act 1
L'Envie (Envy) basse-taille (bass-baritone) (travesti role) François Le Page
Apollon (Apollo) haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Une muse (A Muse) soprano Mlle Rotisset de Romainville
Chorus: Demons accompanying Envy; Muses and heroes accompanying Apollo
Dancers: Eight demons, seven heroes and the nine Muses
Act 2
Bélus basse-taille Claude-Louis-Dominique Chassé de Chinais
Lidie soprano Marie-Jeanne Fesch, known as Mlle Chevalier
Arsine soprano Mlle Jacquet
Une bergère (A shepherdess) soprano Mlle Bourbonnois the elder
Un berger (A shepherd) basse-taille M Albert
Un autre berger (Another shepherd) haute-contre M de La Tour
Apollon (Apollo) haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Les neuf Muses (The nine Muses) Mlles Romainville, Canavasse, Jacquet, Delastre; Monsieurs Le Begue, Duguet[1]
Chorus: Shepherds and shepherdesses; captive kings accompanying Bélus
Dancers: Shepherds and shepherdesses
Act 3
Bacchus haute-contre François Poirier
Érigone soprano Marie Fel
Grand prêtre de la Gloire (High Priest of Glory) basse-taille François Le Page
Une prêtresse (a priestess) soprano Mlle de Metz
Un guerrier (a warrior) basse-taille M Benoist
Une bacchante soprano Marie-Angélique Coupé or Coupée
Chorus: Priests and priestesses of Glory; warriors, aegipans, bacchantes, and satyrs accompanying Bacchus
Dancers: First divertissement: five priestesses of Glory, four heroes; Second divertissement: nine bacchantes, six aegypans, eight satyrs
Act 4
Trajan haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Plautine soprano Marie-Jeanne Fesch, known as Mlle Chevalier
Junie soprano Mlle Romainville
Fanie soprano Mlle Canavasse
Vanquished kings accompanying Trajan [2] hautes-contre, taille (baritenor), two basses-tailles François Poirier, de La Tour, Le Fevre, Gallard, Albert, Person
Chorus: Priests of Mars and priestesses of Venus; Roman men and women; followers of Glory
Dancers: First divertissement: four priests and five priestesses of Mars; Second divertissement: followers of Glory, five men and four women
Act 5
Une Romaine (A Roman woman) soprano Mlle Bourbonnois the elder
Un Romain (A Roman man) basse-taille M Benoist
Une bergère (A shepherdess) soprano Marie-Angélique Coupé or Coupée
NB: All characters from Act 4 appear in Act 5
Chorus: Shepherds and shepherdesses; young Roman men and women
Dancers: Romans of different estates: First quadrille: three men and two women; Second quadrille: three men and two women; Third quadrille: three women and two men; Fourth quadrille: three women and two men.

Synopsis: 1746 version[edit]

Prologue[edit]

Scene: The Cave of Envy with the Temple of Glory in the background

Envy and her followers plot to destroy the Temple of Glory but their attack is thwarted by Apollo, the Muses, the demi-gods and heroes. Apollo condemns Envy to be chained eternally to the foot of the temple. The prologue ends with a celebration of peace and the arts.

Act 1: Bélus[edit]

Scene: The grove of the Muses with the Temple of Glory in the background

King Bélus has deserted his love, the princess Lydie, in a quest for glory through brutal military conquest. Lydie seeks consolation with the Muses and the local shepherds and shepherdesses try to comfort her with their dances. Bélus and his warriors arrive. The gods have rejected his claim to enter the Temple of Glory because of his tyranny. Lydie and the shepherds persuade him that a true king should spread happiness among his people rather than wage war.

Act 2: Bacchus[edit]

Scene; Outside the Temple of Glory

Bacchus's followers celebrate his conquest of Asia. Bacchus boasts of his invention of wine to his lover Érigone. As he approaches the Temple of Glory the High Priest forbids him to enter: he may have won fame by spreading drunken debauchery but only deeds of virtue bring lasting glory. Undiscouraged, Bacchus and his followers set off on their travels again.

Act 3: Trajan[edit]

Scene: The city of Artaxata, partly in ruins. Triumphal arches.

The Emperor Trajan's wife Plautine has followed him to Armenia where he is fighting to crush a rebellion by five kings. Plautine persuades the priests of Mars and the priestesses of Venus to pray for Trajan's success in battle. Trajan returns victorious with the conquered kings in chains, but he magnanimously forgives them and has them freed. Glory descends from the skies to offer Trajan a laurel wreath and the scene changes to her temple. Trajan says he is not worthy of such a great honour and asks for the gods to transform it into the Temple of Happiness for all the world instead.

Recordings[edit]

Audio[edit]

  • Le temple de la Gloire (1745 version), Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chrale, conducted by Nicholas McGegan (2 CDs, PBP, 2018)
  • Le temple de la Gloire (1746 version), Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Les Agrémens, conducted by Guy Van Waas (2 CDs, Ricercar, 2015)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Only six singers are listed in the libretto.
  2. ^ The original libretto states six names for the roles of the vanquished kings, three of whom, Poirier, Latour and Lefevre, were hautes-contre (p. 32). The period score cited below, on the contrary, lists but five parts for the kings and only two of them are notated in the alto clef which was used for hautes-contre, the third is notated in the tenor clef and the two left in the bass clef, which was usual for basses-tailles (p. 168).

Sources[edit]

  • Original libretto : Le Temple de la Gloire, Feste donnée à Versailles, le 27 Novembre 1745, Paris, Ballard, 1745 (accessible for free online at Gallica - B.N.F.)
  • Period manuscript score: Le Temple de la Gloire, Opéra de M De Voltaire; mis en musique par M Rameau (...), kept at and digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (accessible for free online at Gallica - B.N.F.)
  • Girdlestone, Cuthbert, Jean-Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work Dover paperback edition, 1969
  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Sadler, Graham, The New Grove French Baroque Masters Grove/Macmillan, 1988
  • Rameau Le Site