Bellérophon (1679), stage decoration by Carlo Vigarani
The world premiere of Lully's Bellerophon will take place in July during the Festival de Beaune, under the baton of Christophe Rousset.
The author of the libretto was Thomas (de Lisle) Corneille who, in that occasion, learned how hard it was to write an opera, especially an opera for Lully. At that time, Philippe Quinault, Lully's favourite librettist, was in exile because of Madame de Montespan's reaction to their opera Isis. She had got him banned from the court because she thought he had voluntarily ridiculed her by portraying her as the jealous and vindictive Juno.
Lecerf de la Vieville wrote about Corneille's experience : "Lully was constantly driving him to desesperation. For a 500- or 600-verse play, monsieur de Lisle had to write 2000 verses..." Corneille later stated that he'd rather write ten tragedies than an opera.
Actually, Corneille couldn't manage to write the libretto on his own and asked Fontelle and Boileau for their help. It took three authors, time, and lots of arguments with Lully to replace Quinault.
The libretto was good, but, after that difficult experience, and pressured by Lully, the king found wiser to get Quinault back for the next productions.
Bellerophon was performed for the first time at the Palais Royal (Paris), on January 31, 1679, and met with huge success.
Other Lully related program in Beaune : L'exotisme à la Cour de Louis XIV (Exoticism at the Court of Louis XIV), arias and musics by Lully, Cavalli & Moulinie, performed by Le Poeme Harmonique under Vincent Dumestre.
Labels: Festivals, Libretto, Louis XIV, Lully, Opera