Opera Scotland

Galathée Galatea

Music

Victor Massé (born Lorient, 7 March 1822; died Paris, 5 July 1884)

Text

Jules Barbier and Michel Carré

Source

Classical mythology

 

Premières

First Performance: Paris (Opéra-Comique), 14 April 1852.

First Performance in UK: London (Opera-Comique), 23 May 1872.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Royalty Theatre), 10 November 1887.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Massé was a competent, if not particularly inspired, composer of comic operas, of which Galatea was one of the most successful, being performed widely, and surviving, at least in France, for over half a century. He was also a prominent academic, teaching at the Paris Conservatoire. Marie Roze studied the role of Galatea with him shortly before his death, and may well have brought it to the attention of Carl Rosa as a suitable vehicle for her talents following the success of Fadette the previous year.

 

Main Characters

Pygmalion, a sculptor (bass)

Ganymede, his apprentice (tenor)

Galatea, a statue (soprano)

High Priest of Venus (baritone)

 

Plot Summary

Pygmalion is extremely proud of, indeed loves, his latest completed work, a beautiful female statue. He regrets the the one talent he lacks is the ability to give his creation life. He then prays to Venus for Galatea to be brought to life, and his request is granted. He assumes that she will love him, if only in gratitude for being created at all, but her attitude is not what he expected. Instead of the pangs of love, Galatea can feel only the pangs of hunger, and she goes off in search of food. At the Temple of Venus, Galatea is greeted as the beautiful creature she undoubtedly is. On returning to Pygmalion's studio she flirts with Ganymede, a more attractive proposition than his master. At last Pygmalion accepts that he has no chance of gaining her affection, and he also becomes jealous of his apprentice. He therefore begs Venus to restore the status quo. Galatea is therefore deprived of her life, and ends as she began, as a statue on a plinth.

The Cast

Cassia
 
Galatea
 
Ganymede
 Pygmalion's apprentice
High Priest
 of the Temple
Leontia
 
Melia
 
Midas
 a rich art patron
Pygmalion
 an Athenian sculptor
Silana
 

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