Paris: Christophe Ballard, 1679.
Tall folio. Full contemporary dark brown mottled calf with raised bands on spine in decorative compartments gilt, dark red leather title label gilt, marbled endpapers. 1f. (recto title with large publisher's device incorporating musical instruments, verso blank), 1f. (dedication to the king), 154ff.
With small rectangular ownership label to lower margin of front pastedown: "Bibliothèque du Souverain Moulin."
Binding slightly worn; corners rubbed and bumped; joints slightly split at head and tail; endpapers slightly faded. Slightly worn; minor ink swirls to blank right margin of title; occasional early paper repairs; some lower margins slightly creased; small ink stain to extreme outer edge of ff. 137-154; occasional mispagination.
First Edition. Schneider p. 315. Lesure p. 405. RISM L2974 (6 complete copies only in the U.S.).
Bellérophon, to a libretto by T. Corneille and Fontenelle after Hesiod's Theogeny, was first performed in Paris at the Opéra on January 31, 1679.
"According to LeCerf de la Viéville, Lully rejected many drafts by Corneille and Fontenelle and in the end called in Quinault as a ghost-writer. It was a triumphant success as shown from the accounts of the Mercure galant of January, 1679. The decorations were so magnificent that they were patented. In October, Quinault was again seen at court, and Bellérophon was, at last, given at Saint-Germain for the King on January 3, 1680."
"This was the first opera to be printed under Lully's supervision by Christophe Ballard, and thereafter all of the tragédies lyriques were printed the year they appeared." Newman: Jean-Baptiste de Lully His Tragédies Lyriques, p. 53.
"The influence of Lully's work was considerable. In France it was felt in most of the genres to which he turned. He endowed the grand motet with all the ceremony proper to a regal genre. Lalande owed much to him, and Charpentier's famous Te Deum would never have been what it is without Lully's setting. Charpentier, wrongly regarded by many as Lully's principal rival, also respected the structure of the tragédie en musique in his own Médée. The model of this genre, the most successful in French opera under the ancien régime, was to inspire many composers for over a century: first Lully's most faithful disciples, Collasse, Marais and Desmarest, and then Rameau and Gluck in the 18th century, to mention only the most famous names. Even in opéra-ballet, a form of spectacle which was to rival the tragédie en musique in popularity towards the end of Louis XIV's reign, references to it still remain: several passages in Campra's L'Europe galante allude directly to the sommeil of Renaud and the passacaille in Armide. Lully's operatic works remained alive in the public's memory until the eve of the Revolution, and they were often revived in Paris and in the provincial theatres of Marseilles, Lyon, Rouen, Lille, Dijon and Strasbourg."
"From Bellérophon (1679) onwards [Lully] adopted the Italian practice of using the string ensemble to provide greater density at certain dramatic moments. At the same time he also developed this practice in various airs." Jérôme de La Gorce in Grove Music Online.
"[A] libretto subject favoured in the 17th and 18th centuries. Bellerophon, who loves (and is loved by) Philonoë, rejects the advances of Stheneboea (or Anteia), wife of King Proteus of Argos; she causes a monster, the Chimaera, to be unleashed on the kingdom, but Bellerophon kills it, secures Philonoë’s hand and turns out to be the son of Neptune."
"The earliest setting is that of Sacrati, to a text by Vincenzo Nolfi, as Bellerofonte (1642, Venice). Lully set it for the Opéra in 1679, using a libretto by Thomas Corneille with Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (after Hesiod’s Theogony); here the various magical incantations and other supernatural events provide an excuse for the extensive use of the chorus coupled with dramatic symphonies." Lois Rosow and Marita P. McClymonds in Grove Music Online.
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