Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, Les [Les fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les dieux d’Egypte (‘The Festivities of Hymen and Cupid, or The Egyptian Gods’)]
- Graham Sadler
[Les fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les dieux d’Egypte (‘The Festivities of Hymen and Cupid, or The Egyptian Gods’)]
Opéra-ballet in a prologue and three entrées by Jean-Philippe Rameau to a libretto by (Jean-)Louis de Cahusac; Versailles, La Grande Ecurie, 15 March 1747.
Intended to appear as Les dieux d’Egypte, this work was adapted for the celebrations surrounding the dauphin’s second marriage, to Maria Josepha of Saxony. Its theme was fortuitously appropriate: each of the three entrées, ‘Osiris’, ‘Canope’ and ‘Aruéris, ou Les Isies’, culminates in the marriage of one of the Egyptian gods. In the first, Osiris (haute-contre) pacifies a tribe of Amazons and successfully woos the warlike queen Orthésie [Orthesia] (soprano). The second entrée concerns the love of the water god Canope [Canopus] (bass) and Memphis (soprano), a young virgin who is about to be sacrificed to him; at the height of the ceremony, Canopus causes the Nile to overflow and appears on a chariot drawn by crocodiles. He reveals that he is Nilée, the young mortal whom Memphis loves, and thereupon claims her as his bride. The final entrée involves Aruéris [Horus] (...