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date: 14 December 2019

Thétis et Pélée (‘Thetis and Peleus’)locked

  • Caroline Wood

Extract

(‘Thetis and Peleus’)

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Pascal Collasse to a libretto by Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle ; Paris, Opéra, 11 January 1689.

The Nereid Thetis (soprano) is wooed by two gods, Jupiter (bass) and Neptune (bass), and a mortal, Peleus (haute-contre). A celebration ordered by Jupiter in her honour is disrupted by a storm whipped up by Neptune. An oracle consulted about the outcome of this rivalry declares that Thetis’s husband will one day be less powerful than his son. Dismayed, Neptune and Jupiter withdraw their claims, and the wedding of Thetis and Peleus is duly celebrated. Although the plot is rather thin and padded out with spectacular interventions and effects, musically these afford considerable interest; Collasse expands the model of the temple scene inherited from Lully (e.g. Bellérophon) and develops the use of the orchestra for dramatic effects. The tempête in Act 2 scenes vii–ix is the first of many going by way of Marais’ ...

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