Lully, Jean Baptiste. (1632–1687)
Copyist Manuscript of Arias from Persée, Phaëton, Amadis & Armide
Original late-17th-century copyist manuscript of arias from Lully's operas Persée, Phaëton, Amadis and Armide. 183 pp. Folio. Selections from the four operas are penned in a bold, clear hand throughout, with a smaller hand noting the first performance of each opera. Persée was first performed at the Palais-Royal in 1682; Phaëton in 1683; Amadis in 1684 and Armide in 1686. Ownership ticket and signature and paraph to somewhat later inner front pastedown and title page for the complete volume, "A. Dethou." Leather boards with gold decoration and lettering to the spine. Antique restorations to pp. 164 - 169, else fine. Boards and spine heavily rubbed and chipping, but binding intact. 10 x 15.5 inches (26 x 39.5 cm).
Lully wrote one tragédie en musique almost every year between 1673 and his death in 1687, most to verse dramas by Philippe Quinault. Unlike Italian opera of the day, which was rapidly moving toward opera seria with its alternating recitative and da capo airs, in Lully's operas the focus was on drama, expressed by a variety of vocal forms: monologs, airs for two or three voices, rondeaux and French-style da capo airs where the chorus alternates with singers, sung dances, and vaudeville songs for a few secondary characters. The intrigue of the plot culminated in a vast tableau, for example, the sleep scene in Atys, the village wedding in Roland, or the funeral in Alceste. Soloists, chorus and dancers participated in this display, producing astonishing effects thanks to machinery. The earliest operas were performed at the indoor Bel Air tennis court (on the grounds of the Luxembourg Palace) that Lully had converted into a theater. The first performance of later operas either took place at court, or in the theater at the Palais-Royal, which had been made available to Lully's Academy. Once premiered at court, operas were performed for the public at the Palais-Royal.