Prométhée (Prometheus) is a tragédie lyrique (grand cantata) in three acts by the French composer Gabriel Fauré with a French libretto by Jean Lorrain and André-Ferdinand Hérold(IMSLP), based on the Greek myth of Prometheus. The first performance at Arènes de Béziers on 27 August 1900 involved almost 800 performers (including two wind bands and 15 harps) and was watched by an audience of 10,000. Between 1914 and 1916, Jean Roger-Ducasse reworked the score for a reduced orchestra. This version (which was later revised by Fauré) made its debut at the Paris Opéra on 17 May 1917 but never became popular.
Designated as a tragédie lyrique, the work resists easy categorisation. It was intended to be on a large-scale with spoken and musical sections. Warrack and West call it a grand cantata, arguing that since "only some of the characters participate in the stage action it is scarcely an opera, though Fauré's conception of the work is at times more operatic than merely choral ... [and] the clearest example to date of Wagner's influence on his music."
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 27 August 1900
Conductor: Charles Eustace
|Prométhée (Prometheus)||spoken role||Édouard de Max|
|Pandore (Pandora)||spoken role||Cora Laparcerie|
|Hermès (Hermes)||spoken role||Odette de Fehl|
|Hephaïstos (Hephaestus)||bass||Jean Vallier|
The mortal men, led by Andros and Aenoë, are waiting for Prometheus' arrival. Prometheus comes with a gift for them. Gaia appears and warns the titan not to desobey Zeus' orders and then leaves. Prometheus does not listen to her and gives them the gift, the fire. The mortal men leave and soon arrive Kratos (power) and Bia (violence), sent by Zeus to punish him; with them is Hephaestus, the divine forger, who is a friend of Prometheus. The three tell Prometheus his sentence: he will be chained forever to a rock and every day a black eagle shall drink from his veins.
Aenoë and the other girls lament for Prometheus' fate and then leave. Prometheus is back with Kratos, Bia and Hephaestus. Hephaestus laments for his friend but still has to make his chains and bind him to the rock. Bia and Kratos are there to make sure Hephaestus will do what he has to do, he delays but finishes his duty. Kratos, Bia and Hephaestus leave, Prometheus remains chained to the rock.
Pandora suffers for Prometheus, the nymphs try to comfort her. Bia and Kratos tell Pandora she should not suffer and warn her she can be punished for this. Hermes arrives with a gift from Zeus, a box. Prometheus warn the men not to accept a gift from Zeus, but Pandora doesn't listen and take it. The opera ends with a praise to Zeus and his benevolence, besides Prometheus' suffering.
This opera has been presented very rarely, but in July 2011 there was a Brazilian production by the Núcleo Universitário de Ópera (NUO), in São Paulo. This Brazilian production included recitatives instead of spoken lines and a new orchestration by their conductor and director, Paulo Maron.
- Warrack and West 1992, p. 233.
- "Teatro Anhembi Morumbi apresenta Prometheus", 15 June 2011, revised 14 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
- Murray, David (2001). "Gabriel Fauré" in The New Penguin Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140514759.
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Prométhée, 27 August 1900". Almanacco Amadeus (in Italian).
- Warrack, John; West, Ewan (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869164-5.