In my last post, I noted that Les Amants magnifiques (The Magnificent Lovers) was a comédie-ballet héroïque. We discussed the comedy only. The interludes, I wrote, would be discussed separately. In fact, the video I showed was based on Les Amants magnifiques. Therefore, we saw a very short part of Apollo’s entrée, which follows the end of the “comedy.”
I also mentioned that the interlude separating Act One and Act Two of the comedy was a long interlude featuring a pastorale, shepherds and shepherdesses, as well as a scene of dépit amoureux, “love-tiff.” I wondered whether one could find a translation into English of the interludes. One can. Henri van Laun’s translation of Dramatic Works of Molière (Volume 5) contains the relevant translation. It is an Internet Archive publication and very precious. For Henri van Laun, there are five interludes. In the Pléiade edition, there are six.
According to toutmoliere.net, or members of the Molière 21 research group, Louis XIV did not dance in Molière’s Amants magnifiques. Therefore, if he fell, it could not have been at the very end of Act Five of the Amants magnifiques. In the video’s Apollo entrée and the divertissement, Apollo, was played by a person other than Louis XIV. The video I used is very short, but it encapsulates Louis XIV’s rather “inflated” opinion of himself: the Sun King. However, these words could be flattery. A divertissement royal was commissioned by the king and it provided a fine income. But the video’s message is clear. No one is God on this earth.
Molière, with the participation of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Pierre Beauchamp, introduced the comédie-ballet at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Molière’s Les Fâcheux was performed when Nicolas Foucquet, hosted France’s “who’s who,” including a very young Louis XIV. It was a fête no one could match easily and it included Molière’s Les Fâcheux. It was performed successfully and Molière had dedicated the play to Louis XIV, a very young Louis. Molière was one of Fouquet’s numerous protégés, as was Jean de La Fontaine, who would be a friend of Molière until the dramatist’s early death from tuberculosis.
You probably remember that Louis suspected embezzlement on the part of Fouquet and asked a musketeer to arrest him. Foucquet/Fouquet was tried, convicted, and spent the rest of his life, nineteen years, in the prison where the Man in the Iron Mask was also detained.
Since Louis would not have a lesser castle than one of his subjects, he hired Foucquet’s architects and their teams, and had Versailles built. The event called for a divertissement royal, Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée. The fête occurred at an early point in the building of Versailles. Louis hoped he could outperform Fouquet’s fête, but he didn’t. We have also mentioned another divertissement royal which occurred after the period of mourning that followed the death of Anne d’Autriche. Isaac de Benserade‘s Ballet des muses included two plays by Molière, but a third was added and performed on 13 or 14 February 1667. It was Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre or Love makes the painter.
Les Amants magnifiques was also part of a divertissement royal. It was so lavish a divertissement that performing it in Paris would be too expensive. Molière wrote the play and the interludes and did very well. He was a good imitator and I believe he rose to the occasion.
The Interludes (Les Intermèdes)
There are six interludes in the 2010 Pléiade edition of Molière’s Œuvres complètes. Henri van Laun’s translation has five interludes.
Les Amants magnifiques
- opens to the sound of Lully’s music with lyrics by Molière.
- A second intermède occurs at the end of Act One. The dancers were Messieurs Beauchamp, Saint-André and Favier.
- The third interlude, the longest, follows Act Two and consists of a Prologue introducing a pastoral featuring Lycaste, Ménandre and Tircis, and a scene of Dépit amoureux, translated as “love-tiff” by Henri van Laun.
- A fourth interlude follows Act Three, and
- a fifth separates Acts Four and Five.
- a sixth is the Jeux pythiens where Apollo is Louis XIV. The video at the foot of my last post forms part of the Amants magnifiques. It may be that Molière expected Louis to dance, but he didn’t (see the Notice in toutmolière.com).
At the end of Act Five, most, in not all, the play’s characters are on their way to the Pythian Games. I wrote most, because the two princes threatened vengeance. In fact, Cléonice had told Aristione that Anaxarque abused the princes.
Madame, je viens vous dire qu’Anaxarque a jusqu’ici abusé, l’un et l’autre
prince, par l’espérance de ce choix qu’ils poursuivent depuis longtemps, et qu’au bruit qui s’est répandu de votre aventure, ils ont fait éclater tous deux leur ressentiment contre lui, jusque-là que, de paroles en paroles, les choses se sont échauffées, et il en a reçu quelques blessures dont on ne sait pas bien ce qui arrivera. Mais les voici.
Cléonice to Aristione (V. i. p. 33)
[Madam, I am come to tell you that Anaxarchus had till now deceived both the princes, with the hope of favouring the choice upon which their souls were bent; and that, hearing what has taken place, they have both given way to their resentment against him, and things growing worse, he has received several wounds, from which it is impossible to say what may happen. But here they are both coming.]
Cléonice to Aristione (V. 3)
The following is a quotation from the very last part of Les Amants magnifiques, Apollo’s entrée:
Je suis la source des clartés,
Et les astres les plus vantés
Dont le beau cercle m’environne,
Ne sont brillants et respectés
Que par l’éclat que je leur donne.
Du char où je me puis asseoir
Je vois le désir de me voir
Posséder la nature entière,
Et le monde n’a son espoir
Qu’aux seuls bienfaits de ma lumière.
Bienheureuses de toutes parts,
Et pleines d’exquises richesses
Les terres où de mes regards
J’arrête les douces caresses.
[I am the source of all delight ; And the most vaunted stars, Whose beauteous circle is around me,/ Are only brilliant and respected,/ By the splendour which I give them,/ From the car on which I sit,/ I see the wish to behold me/ Shared by the whole of nature;/ And the wide world has but its hope/ In the sole blessings of my light./ Very happy everywhere,/ And full of exquisite wealth,/ The lands on which I throw/ The sweet caresses of my glances.]
(Henri van Laun, p. 192)
“Dormez, dormez,” a video inserted at the foot of this post, also quotes Les Amants magnifiques. Tirsis, Lycaste and Ménandre sing together while Caliste sleeps.
Tirsis, Lycaste and Ménandre
Dormez, dormez, beaux yeux, adorables vainqueurs,
Et goûtez le repos que vous ôtez aux cœurs,
Dormez, dormez, beaux yeux.
[Sleep on, sleep on, fair eyes, lovely conquerors; And taste that peace which you wrest from all hearts; Sleep on, sleep on, fair eyes.]
Silence, petits oiseaux,
Vents, n’agitez nulle chose,
Coulez doucement, ruisseaux,
C’est Caliste qui repose.
Intermède (III. iv, p. 19)
[Now silence keep, ye little birds; Ye winds, stir nought around ; Ye stream, run sweetly on: For Caliste is slumbering.]
(Henri van Laun, p. 171)
La Princesse d’Élide
Our next play is La Princesse d’Élide, first performed at Versailles during Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée, is a divertissement royal.
I do not think Molière’s plays are now considered either farces or grandes comédies. Such was the case when I was a student. But we also have the divertissements. La Princesse d’Élide is une comédie galante. I may bring up the notion of “galant music.”
We must also discuss love. Ériphile has been asked to choose a spouse. She loses this privilege, but the comedic “will,” ensures she marries the man she loves. It’s a form of destiny. But Anaxarque was plotting her demise and our “princes” knew. However, they did not know which prince Anaxarque, our charlatan “astrologer,” would choose. It was Iphicrate.
Sources and Resources
Love to everyone 💕
Les Amants magnifiques – Lully/ Molière
Personne n’est Dieu sur cette terre. No one is God on this earth.
© Micheline Walker
4 October 2019