The Ballet “Les Noces de Pelée et de Thetis” (1653) Preserved in Visual Images

Keywords: libretto, costumes and decorations for the ballet “Les Noces de Pelée et de Thetis,” Carlo Caproli’s opera, mythological plots in ballet and opera.

Abstract

The article is devoted to the ballet “Les Noces
de Pelée et de Thetis” which was produced
in 1693 in the Petit Bourbon Palace in Paris
(according to the rules of the French theater
of that time period) in order to complement
the opera with the same name composed
by Carlo Caproli. The basis for the plot
of the production was the myth widely
disseminated in art works about the mortal
Peleus and the Nereid Thetis, transformed
in correspondence with the aesthetics of that
time. The Dance entrées followed each scene
of the Italian opera and were connected with
its each content, in its turn, forming
a consistent, logically delineated narration.
The published libretto conveys the plot,
and at times the outer form of the action quite
vividly and fi guratively. A description
of the decorations and machines used
in the ballet has also been preserved,
as the result of which in our time it becomes
possible to create a visual impression from
the production. In addition, important defi ning
details capable of providing a perception not
only of the protagonists’ outward appearances,
but also of a concrete distribution of roles
between the performers are the sketches
for numerous costumes preserved up
to our time. Thereby, it turns out that in 17th
century musical performance a considerable
role is played by its visual solution, which,
having been preserved in iconographic
materials, is capable of helping create an impression from the overall conception
of the production a few centuries after
it happened.

Published
2021-03-03
Section
The Art of Classicism