Apollon: Disheartened Hero or Afflicted God?

More than any other mythological character, Apollo gained a privileged place in the plots of ballets and operas in the extended Grand Siècle – chiefly for Louis XIV’s identification and his fixation in being seen as the god’s earthly embodiment - perhaps giving out more of his own persona than he bargained for. Indeed, Apollo can be extensively found throughout Lully’s stage output, and also in the works of his predecessors and successors. This paper will contextualise the two extant 18th-century choreographies set to Lully’s Le Triomphe de l’Amour, while identifying a previously unlabelled dance as a third ‘Entrée d’Apollon.’ One shall consider the dramatic context in livrets and plots of eight theatrical works (by Bensérade, Molière, Quinault, Corneille, Danchet and Galbert de Campistron), offer enlightening musicological analyses of the respective musical scores (by Lully, Cambefort and Caproli), observe choreographical features in the extant danced entrées (by Feuillet (1700), Pécour (1704) and L’Abbé (c.1725)), while cross-referencing the findings and considering the oratorical structure of works. Moreover, one aims to pose the following questions: Can our contemporary concept of a ‘hero’ be applied to 17th- and 18th-century works? Could the image of an immortal, powerful god be tainted by love? To what extent are our interpretations and re-creations historically correct?

Ricardo Barros
Author affiliation
Royal Academy of Music