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date: 13 November 2019

Atys (‘Attis’)(ii)locked

  • Mary Hunter

Extract

(‘Attis’)

Tragédie lyrique in three acts by Niccolò Piccinni (see Piccinni family (opera) §(1)) to a libretto by Marmontel, Jean François (opera) after Quinault, Philippe; Paris, Opéra, 22 February 1780.

Marmontel’s libretto follows Quinault’s (set by Lully, 1676) except for the tragic end. In this later version, Cybele (soprano) does not transform Attis (alto) into a pine tree; rather, the opera ends with the suicide of Attis and choral mourning. Marmontel also omitted the Prologue and the divertissements, limited the accessory singing roles to two companions, Idas (alto) and Doris (soprano), added aria texts and regularized some recitative verses. At the 1783 revival in Paris, which was more successful than the première, a happy ending was substituted.

Piccinni’s music is remarkable for its startling effects, unexpected dynamic shifts and striking textures. This is evident at the beginning of the overture: a quiet semibreve chord in the strings is joined halfway through the bar by the winds, ...

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