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date: 20 November 2019

Roland(i)locked

  • Lois Rosow

Extract

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully (see Lully family (opera) §(1)) to a libretto by Quinault, Philippe (opera) after Ariosto, Ludovico (opera)’s Orlando furioso; Versailles, court, 8 January 1685.

Lully and Quinault’s penultimate tragedy was performed weekly at Versailles (in the riding-school theatre, without machinery) for two months; the production then moved to the Paris Opéra on 8 or 9 March and continued until November. The principal singers were Le Rochois (Angélique), Dumesnil (Médor) and Beaumavielle (Roland). Paris Opéra revivals occurred regularly up to 1755. Between 1686 and 1750 there were productions in Brussels (several times), Marseilles, Lyons, Rouen, Metz, Lille and Amsterdam.

Lully’s dedication of the printed score to Louis XIV indicates that the king chose the subject of the story. The libretto is curiously divided. Acts 1–3 concern Angélique’s internal conflict between love and ‘glory’ (more precisely, love and pride). Acts 4–5 concern Roland’s internal struggle with unrequited love; it is resolved by a ...

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