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date: 23 October 2019

Thésée (‘Theseus’)locked

  • Lois Rosow

Extract

(‘Theseus’)

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully (see Lully family (opera) §(1)) to a libretto by Quinault, Philippe after Ovid’s Metamorphoses; St Germain-en-Laye, court, 11 January 1675.

The aging King Egée [Aegeus] (baritone) wishes to marry his ward, the princess Eglé [Aegle] (soprano). The magician princess Médée [Medea] (soprano) wants to marry Theseus (haute-contre), the young hero who has led the king’s victorious army. Theseus and Aegle, however, love each other. A subplot involves the confidants of Aegeus, Aegle and Medea in a love triangle. Medea unleashes her magical powers in an unsuccessful attempt to force Aegle to relinquish Theseus, transporting her first to a dreadful desert where the ‘inhabitants of hell’ torment her, then to an enchanted island where she must lie to Theseus about her feelings if she wishes his life to be spared. Unable to vanquish the lovers, Medea pretends to honour them and turns to the king for vengeance: she persuades Aegeus to regard Theseus as a potential threat to the throne and to poison him during a festival in his honour. At the last moment the king recognizes Theseus’ sword and realizes what the others already know – that the young hero is his son who has been raised in a faraway place. Aegeus stops Theseus from drinking the poison and gladly gives him Aegle’s hand. Medea’s final act of vengeance – the destruction of the festive setting – is undone by the goddess Minerve [Minerva] (soprano)....

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