- Mary Hunter
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, 27 January 1778.
Roland was Piccinni’s first French opera; it was intended to counter the opposition during the third controversy in Paris involving French and Italian music. Given the atmosphere in Paris at the time, Piccinni expected Roland to fail, but it was well received and continued to be performed throughout Europe until the mid-1780s. The story, originally taken from Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, tells of Roland’s obsessive (indeed, bewitched) love for Angélique (see Angelica e Medoro ). This version begins with a scene for Angélique (soprano) and her confidante Thémire (soprano), in which Angélique is torn between her interest in the knight Roland (bass) and her love for the squire Médor (tenor), whom she nursed after he had been wounded. Thémire reminds her of her status. Angélique orders Médor to leave her, but she is grief-stricken. The first act ends with the arrival of some oriental islanders, one of whom presents her with a bracelet from Roland....