Lully, Collasse

La naissance de Vénus

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Ballet royal de la naissance de Vénus LWV 27 (1665)
12 entrées ballet on a libretto by Isaac de Benserade
first performed at the Palais-Royal in Paris, on 26 January 1665

Grâce 1, Ariane : Deborah Cachet
Grâce 2, Thétis : Bénédicte Tauran
Grâce 3 : Ambroisine Bré
Orphée : Guy Cutting
Neptune : Guillaume Andrieux

 

Pascal Collasse (1649-1709)
La Naissance de Vénus (1696)
Pastoral in 1 prolog and 5 acts on a libretto by the abbé Jean Pic
first performed at the Académie royale de musique in Paris,
on 1st May 1696 – extraits

Amphitrite, Grâce 1 : Deborah Cachet  
Vénus, Grâce 2 : Bénédicte Tauran
Junon, Grâce 3 : Ambroisine Bré   
Neptune : Guy Cutting   
Nérée/Le Temps : Philippe Estèphe  
Jupiter/Borée : Guillaume Andrieux  

Chœur de chambre de Namur
Les Talens Lyriques
Direction : Christophe Rousset

Through two very different but nevertheless complementary works, Christophe Rousset presents a musical depiction of the birth of Venus. Written within thirty years of each other, a ballet de cour by Lully (1665) and a pastorale by his pupil Pascal Collasse (1696).

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) took up the subject in 1665, when the ballet de cour was at the height of its popularity. The poet Isaac de Benserade provided the libretto, which Lully set to music, while borrowing a few bars from Michel Lambert and Louis de Mollier. Louis XIV himself took part in the ballet when it was first performed at the Palais-Royal on 26 January 1665, as did his brother Philippe, Duke of Orléans (known as “Monsieur”) and his sister-in-law, Philippe’s wife, Henrietta of England (known as “Madame”). The work is dedicated to the latter. In two parts and twelve entrées, the ballet celebrates the birth of Venus, the goddess of Love and the extent of her powers.

As for Pascal Collasse (1649-1709), he composes his Naissance de Vénus as a tragédie en musique. It was premièred at the Académie Royale de Musique on 1 May 1696 on a libretto by Jean Pic, and includes many airs de violon composed by Lully. Subsequently felt into oblivion, the opera presents a Venus whose birth provokes a real love intrigue in the Olympus. This work, of a pastoral nature, includes many divertissements, in which Collasse, who had recently been appointed Composer to the King’s Chamber (1696), after working as a batteur de mesure at the Opéra, reveals “his merit […] and the fertility of his genius” (Titon du Tillet).