Les amours de Ragonde
Les amours de Ragonde is an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 in three acts by Jean-Joseph Mouret
Jean-Joseph Mouret
Jean-Joseph Mouret was a French composer whose dramatic works made him one of the leading exponents of Baroque music in his country...

 with a libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 by Philippe Néricault Destouches
Philippe Néricault Destouches
Philippe Néricault Destouches was a French dramatist.-Biography:Destouches was born at Tours, in the today's department of Indre-et-Loire....

. It was first performed at the Château de Sceaux
Château de Sceaux
The Château de Sceaux is a grand country house in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, not far from Paris, France. Located in a park laid out by André Le Nôtre, it houses the Musée de l’Île-de-France, a museum of local history. The former château was built for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's minister of...

 in December, 1714. It is one of the first French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 comic opera
Comic opera
Comic opera denotes a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature, usually with a happy ending.Forms of comic opera first developed in late 17th-century Italy. By the 1730s, a new operatic genre, opera buffa, emerged as an alternative to opera seria...


Performance history

Mouret was in charge of the Grandes Nuits de Sceaux, musical entertainments put on every fortnight by the Duchesse de Maine at her chateau at Sceaux. For the 13th night, Mouret and his librettist wrote Le mariage de Ragonde. Comedy was something of a novelty in French opera
French Opera
French opera is one of Europe's most important operatic traditions, containing works by composers of the stature of Rameau, Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy, Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen...

 and the work looks forward to the genre of opéra comique
Opéra comique
Opéra comique is a genre of French opera that contains spoken dialogue and arias. It emerged out of the popular opéra comiques en vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent , which combined existing popular tunes with spoken sections...

which would become popular in the mid-18th century. Mouret also parodied many famous scenes from the prestigious tragédies en musique by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

, including moments from Armide
Armide (Lully)
Armide is an opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully. The libretto was written by Philippe Quinault, based on Torquato Tasso's La Gerusalemme liberata .Critics in the 18th century regarded Armide as Lully's masterpiece...

, Atys
Atys (Lully)
Atys is a tragédie en musique in a prelude and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully to a French-language libretto by Philippe Quinault based on Ovid's Fasti. It was premiered at the royal court in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, January 10, 1676...

and Alceste
Alceste (Lully)
Alceste, ou Le triomphe d’Alcide is a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully. The French-language libretto is by Philippe Quinault, after Euripides’ Alcestis...

. The next time the opera was heard was after Mouret's death in a revised version at the Académie royale de musique
Académie Royale de Musique
The Salle Le Peletier was the home of the Paris Opera from 1821 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1873. The theatre was designed and constructed by the architect François Debret on the site of the former Hôtel de Choiseul...

, Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 on 30 January 1742, where it was a great success. It probably inspired Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François...

 to write his own comic opera about an ugly woman, Platée
Platée is an opera in a prologue and three acts by Jean-Philippe Rameau with a libretto by Adrien-Joseph Le Valois d'Orville. Rameau bought the rights to the libretto Platée ou Junon Jalouse by Jacques Autreau and had d'Orville modify it...

. The musical score of the 1714 version of Ragonde does not survive.


Role Voice type Cast (1742 revival)
Ragonde taille (baritenor
Baritenor is a musical term formed by a blend of the words "baritone" and "tenor". It is used to describe both baritone and tenor voices. In Webster's Third New International Dictionary it is defined as "a baritone singing voice with virtually a tenor range"...

 - role en travesti
En travesti
Travesti is a theatrical term referring to the portrayal of a character in an opera, play, or ballet by a performer of the opposite sex. Some sources regard 'travesti' as an Italian term, some as French. Depending on sources, the term may be given as travesty, travesti, or en travesti...

Louis-Antoine Cuvillier
Colin haute-contre
The haute-contre is a rare type of high tenor voice, predominant in French Baroque and Classical opera until the latter part of the eighteenth century.-History:...

Pierre Jélyotte
Pierre Jélyotte
Pierre Jélyotte was a French operatic tenor, particularly associated with works by Rameau, Lully, Campra, and Destouches.-Life and career:...

Colette soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

Marie-Angélique Coupée (also spelled Coupé or Couppé)
Thibault haute-contre Jean-Antoine (or Jean-Baptiste) Bérard
Mathurine soprano Mlle Bourbonnois
Lucas bass Albert

Act One: La soirée de village (The Village Junket)

Ragonde is an ugly old farmer's widow. At a party in the village she tells the young Colin of her love for him but Colin wants to marry her daughter, Colette, and mocks Ragonde. Lucas, who is also in love with Colette, tells the old woman how she can be revenged on Colin.

Act Two: Les lutins (The Goblins)

Colette is in love with Lucas, but their marriage is dependent on Colin becoming Ragonde's husband, otherwise Ragonde will not allow it. Colette, Lucas and his friend Thibault hatch a plot against Colin. Colette arranges an assignation with him in a wood in the dead of night. Colin arrives at the appointed place only to be terrified by "goblins" who claim to be in the service of the witch Ragonde. In reality, they are boys from the village who have been disguised by Lucas and Thibault. They make Colin promise to marry Ragonde in return for his life.

Act Three: La noce ou le charivari (The Wedding or the Charivari)

The double wedding of Colette and Lucas and Ragonde and Colin takes place. Colin is in tears until Ragonde threatens him with the goblins again. The opera ends with a charivari
Charivari is the term for a French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade, also pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds. The loud, public ritual evolved to a form of social coercion, for instance, to force an as-yet-unmarried couple to wed...

, noisy music to celebrate the married couples.


  • Les amours de Ragonde (1742 version) Michel Verschaeve, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt
    Jean-Paul Fouchécourt
    Jean-Paul Fouchécourt is a French tenor, mostly as an opera singer. He was born on August 30, 1958, at Blanzy in the Burgundy region. He is best known for singing French Baroque music, especially the parts called in French haute-contre, written for a very high tenor voice with no falsetto...

    , Sophie Marin-Degor, Les Musiciens du Louvre
    Les Musiciens du Louvre
    Les Musiciens du Louvre is a French period instrument ensemble, formed in 1982. Originally based in Paris, since 1996 it has been based in the Couvent des Minimes in Grenoble. The Guardian considers it one of the best orchestras in the world.- History:Founded by Marc Minkowski in 1982, the...

    , conducted by Marc Minkowski
    Marc Minkowski
    Marc Minkowski is a French conductor of classical music, especially known for his interpretations of French Baroque works. His mother is American, and his father was Alexandre Minkowski, a Polish-French professor of pediatrics and one of the founders of neonatology...

    (Erato, 1992)


  • Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac
  • Pitou, Spire, The Paris Opéra. An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers – Rococo and Romantic, 1715-1815, Greenwood Press, Westport/London, 1985 (ISBN 0-313-24394-8)
  • Booklet notes to the above recording.
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