Paris: Robert Ballard, seul Imprimeur du Roy pour la Musique, ruë S. Jean de Beauvais, au Mont-Parnasse, 1671.
Small quarto. Full maroon morocco with triple rules to outer edges of boards, spine with titling and decorative tooling gilt, all edges gilt, inner dentelles gilt, marbled endpapers. 1f. (recto title with decorative device, verso blank), 3-43, [i] (blank) pp. With decorative woodcut headpiece and initial to pp. 3 and 5 and occasional head- and tailpieces throughout.
With named cast list of actors to foot of page 12 including Molière (Zephir), Mademoiselle Molière (Psiché), Baron (L'Amour), Marotte and Boval (Deux Soeurs de Psiché), la Thorilliere (La Pere de Psiché), Chateauneuf (Son Capitaine des Gardes), Hubert and La Grange (Les Deux Amants de Psiché), de Brie (Venus), Les petites la Thorilliere and du Croisy (Deux Graces), Thorillon and Barillonet (Deux petits amours), de Brie (Un Fleuve), and Du Croisy (Jupiter).
Uniform light browning; occasional minor foxing. A very good, wide-margined copy overall.
First Edition. Schneider pp. 191-192. Guibert: Bibliographie des Oeuvres de Molière publiées au XVIIIe Siècle pp. 337-38: "Cette Edition. Originale et très rare."
Psyché, originally written in prose by Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin 1622-1673) and versified in collaboration with Pierre Corneille and Philippe Quinault based on Apuleius's 2nd century Cupid and Psyche in The Golden Ass, was first performed before the royal court of Louis XIV in Paris at the Théâtre des Tuileries on January 17, 1671. The ballets were by Pierre Beauchamps, Anthoine des Brosses, and Nicolas Delorge, with scenery and special effects designed by Carlo Vigarani.
" ... the work that came closest to the new repertory which the composer was to contribute to music drama in Paris was Psyché (1671). This was a tragédie-ballet, a unique hybrid spectacle partaking of the nature of both the tragédie à machines and the comédie-ballet. From the former genre, its model first perfected by Pierre Corneille in his Andromède (1650), Psyché borrowed the structure of five acts and a prologue, with a change of setting and the intervention of a glory, or of a heavenly chariot, in each act. It also took an elevated subject from classical mythology and treated it in a manner sometimes galant and sometimes dramatic, while the description of the piece in the libretto as a ‘tragi-comedy’ allowed a happy ending. Molière, who was short of time, had asked Corneille to write almost all the verses for the last four acts. The contribution of the comédie-ballet genre was equally large: no tragédie à machines had ever had the advantage of large-scale intermèdes in which music and dancing could feature so prominently. The first of these intermèdes, rightly regarded as one of the peaks of Lully's art, presented a long funereal lament, while the last was a monumental finale with a succession of entrées de ballet, airs for solo singers, vocal ensembles and choruses. In spite of all these features, Psyché was not an opera; to make it into one it was necessary to replace all the spoken dialogue by recitatives, and that was exactly what Lully, Corneille's brother Thomas and his nephew Fontenelle did in 1678, when they turned the tragédie-ballet into a tragédie en musique." Jérôme de la Gorce in Grove Music Online.
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