Grétry, André


Grétry, André

Amphitryon (full opera score with French libretto and appendix)

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André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry – Amphitryon

(b. Liège, 11 February 1741 – d. Montmorency, 24 September 1813)


Opera in 3 acts

André Ernest Modeste Grétry was born on February 8, 1741 in Liège, Belgium. He learned keyboard and composition during his childhood under the tutelage of Jean-Pantaléon Leclerc, Nicolas Rennekin, and Henri Moreau. He saw various Italian operas in his youth, leading to his decision to pursue composition as an adult, studying under Giovanni Battista Casali. During and following his training in composition, he met, worked with, and befriended many other composers and celebrities, most notably including François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire.

Amphitryon is an opera written by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known by his stage name Molière, with the music composed by Grétry. The opera’s premiere was at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris on January 13, 1668. The opera calls for a total of 14 roles: Jupiter, Mercury, Amphitryon, Argatiphontidas, Cleanthis, Naucrates, Polidas, Posicles, Sosie, Blepharo, Alcmena, Bromia, Thessala, and an unspecified actor role utilized for extra roles. This is considered higher than the typical number of roles in an opera, which usually ranges from 7–10. The story of Amphitryon is based on the Roman version of a Greek myth, written by Titus Maccius Plautus. The opera is scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, violins, viola, cello, contrabass, piano, timpani, and a vocal ensemble. There are a total of 3 acts and a prologue, with differing acts of the opera consisting of slightly different instrumentation for reasons unknown.

The opera’s plot revolves around Amphitryon, the titular character, leaving his home to fight in a war after his marriage to Alcmene. While absent, the god Jupiter takes an interest in Alcmene’s beauty, and he and Mercury take on the forms of Amphitryon and his servant, Sosie, respectively, in an attempt for Jupiter to seduce her. After some time passes, Amphitryon is successful in the war and sends Sosie back to report their victory. When Sosie returns, he encounters Mercury, who convinces him that he is the true Sosie. Upon Amphitryon’s return, he is confused by Alcmene’s descriptions of having had a wonderful night. Knowing that he was in fact not present, he questions what could have happened. After many other similar instances occur, eventually the god Jupiter reveals himself. He explains that Alcmene was faithful to Amphitryon, because the only way he could successfully seduce her was by taking Amphitryon’s appearance. Jupiter informs them that Alcmene is pregnant with his son, the demi-god Heracles, before departing.

The opera was a major success, especially for members of the French aristocracy, due to its humor and writing, with it being performed nearly 30 times between when it was first premiered until Easter of the following year. Despite its success, there were small rumors and controversy surrounding the opera upon its initial release. This early controversy stemmed from the idea that the opera was created to criticize the numerous affairs of King Louis XIV, through the character of Jupiter. However, there is no further elaboration upon these controversies, and the rumors seemingly died down.

Abigayle Lessnau, 2023

For performance material please contact Breitkopf und Härtel, Wiesbaden.



Read full German preface > HERE

Score No.






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