Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau
Form/Instrumentation: Opera–Ballet, Keyboard Suite
Year(s) composed/published or premiered: written between 1735-1761
Catelog #: n/a
Sections/Parts/Movements: 4 Acts
Entrée I – Le turc généreux (The Generous Turk)
Entrée II – Les incas du Pérou (The Incas of Peru)
Entrée III – Les fleurs (The Flowers)
Entrée IV – Les sauvages (The Savages) in 1736
Work Info: Les Indes galantes (“The Amorous Indies”) is an opera-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau with libretto by Louis Fuzelier. The premiere, including only the prologue and the first two of its four entrées (acts), was staged by the Académie Royale de Musique at its theatre in the Palais-Royal in Paris on 23 August 1735, starring the leading singers of the Opéra, Marie Antier, Marie Pélissier, Mlle Errémans, Mlle Petitpas, Denis-François Tribou, Pierre Jélyotte, and Claude-Louis-Dominique Chassé de Chinais, and the dancers Marie Sallé and Louis Dupré. Michel Blondy provided the choreography. The ballet’s Premier Menuet was used in the soundtrack of the 2006 film Marie Antoinette.
Background: In 1725, French settlers in Illinois sent Chief Agapit Chicagou of the Mitchigamea and five other chiefs to Paris. On 25 November 1725, they met with King Louis XV. Chicagou had a letter read pledging allegiance to the crown. They later danced three kinds of dances in the Théâtre-Italien, inspiring Rameau to compose his rondeau Les Sauvages.
Performance history: The premiere met with a lukewarm reception from the audience and, at the third performance, a new entrée was added under the title Les Fleurs. However, this caused further discontent because it showed the hero disguised as a woman, which was viewed either as an absurdity or as an indecency. As a result, it was revised for the first time and this version was staged on 11 September. Notwithstanding these initial problems, the first run went on for twenty-eight performances between 23 August and 25 October, when, however, only 281 livres were grossed, the lowest amount ever collected at the box office by Les Indes galantes.
Nevertheless, when it was mounted again on 10 (or 11) March 1736, a very large audience flocked to the theatre resulting in “prodigious” takings. The entrée des Fleurs was “replaced with a version in which the plot and all the music except the divertissement was new”, and a fourth entrée, Les Sauvages, was added, in which Rameau reused the famous air des Sauvages he had composed in 1725 on the occasion of the American Indian chiefs’ visit and later included in the Nouvelles Suites de pièces de clavecin (1728).
Now in something approaching a definitive form,the opera enjoyed six performances in March and was then mounted again as of 27 December. Further revivals were held in 1743-1744, 1751 and 1761 for a combined total of 185 billings.The work was also performed in Lyon on 23 November 1741, at the theatre of the Jeu de Paume de la Raquette Royale, and again in 1749/1750, at the initiative of Rameau’s brother-in-law, Jean-Philippe Mangot. Furthermore, the prologue and individual entrées were often revived separately and given within the composite operatic programs called ‘fragments’ or ‘spectacles coupés’ (cut up representations) that: “were almost constant fare at the Palais-Royal in the second half of the eighteenth century”. The prologue, Les Incas and Les Sauvages were last given respectively in 1771, 1772 and 1773. Thenceforth Les Indes galantes was dropped from the Opéra’s repertoire, after having seen almost every artiste of the company in the previous forty years take part in its complete or partial performances.
Air pour les Sauvages:
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