Amadis de Grèce (‘Amadis of Greece’)
- Caroline Wood
(‘Amadis of Greece’)
Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by André Cardinal Destouches to a libretto by Antoine Houdar de Lamotte ; Paris, Opéra, ?26 March 1699.
After about 1700 chivalric subjects became a popular alternative to mythology for French opera librettos; alongside this went a growing taste for horror and the supernatural, supplied here by the intervention of the sorceress Mélisse (soprano). The plot concerns Amadis (bass) and the Prince of Thrace (haute-contre), rival suitors for Niquée (soprano), daughter of the King of Thebes. An ombre, the spirit of the Prince, is summoned by Mélisse to help her thwart Amadis’s intentions, but pronounces instead the gods’ support of Niquée and Amadis. The casting of the haute-contre as the unsuccessful lover is unusual. The music contains many illustrations of natural and supernatural phenomena. The scene of the ombre in Act 5 (i and ii) gives the orchestra a prominent role: first in the evocation, with irregular flurries of activity in the ...