Opera Scotland

Anacréon Anacréon

Music

Jean-Philippe Rameau (born Dijon, c25 September 1683; died Paris, 12 September 1764)

Text

Pierre-Joseph Bernard.

Source

Original.

 

Premières

First performance: Paris (Opéra), 31 May 1757.

First UK performance: Edinburgh (Royal Lyceum Theatre), 18 August 1985.

First performance in Scotland: As above.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Rameau did not settle in Paris until near middle-age (39), and only started composing operas at 50. During his remaining years he produced a number of superbly dramatic stage works, the first one, Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) already being as powerful as anything he produced later. Anacréon is a brief piece, an Acte de Ballet, where the dancing is certainly of equal importance to the singing. The subject matter is a debate as to the compatibility of love and drink.

 

Characters

Anacréon (baritone)

Amour (soprano)

Prêtresse (soprano)

Agathocles (counter-tenor)

Guest (tenor)

 

Plot Summary

The action takes place in the home of the poet Anacreon, where sung numbers are interspersed with dances. Anacreon joins his friends in a chorus of praise to Bacchus. He then sings of his love for his current companion, Lycoris. At this point, the priestesses of Bacchus enter, annoyed that the worship of their god should be adulterated by being combined with the worship of Love. Worship of Bacchus should not be shared with anything else. After a brief battle, in which the devotees are victorious, Anacreon is in the mood for slumber. However he is woken by a violent storm. Cupid now appears, and says that he served Lycoris until she was rejected by her lover, due to the influence of Bacchus. Anacreon confesses that he was that lover. Cupid declares that Love has triumphed over Bacchus, and the chorus and dancers join in celebration of Love’s victory. The devotees of Bacchus return, surprised at this turn of events, but at last it is agreed that love and wine are compatible, and it is possible for both parties to join in the final dances.

The Cast

Agathocles
 
Anacréon
 a poet
Guest
 
Love
 
Priestess
 

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