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Hésione (1700)

libretto by Antoine Danchet, music by André Campra

edited by John S. Powell

Heracles Delivering Hesione, Francois Le Moyne (1688-1737)

Plot summary:  The Prologue portrays celebrations of the Sun in an amphitheatre in ancient Rome.  In Act I, Télamon, King of Salamis, is unhappy that the princess Hésione prefers his rival Anchise. Vénus comes to his aid and says she will separate Anchise and Hésione.  An oracle announces that Anchise must travel to Mount Ida to learn the will of the gods.  Act 2 takes place on Mount Ida, where Vénus appears to Anchise and tries to win his love.  But in spite of the charming divertissement she puts on for him, Anchise rejects her, and she decides to take her revenge on Hésione.  In Act 3 Hésione, believing Anchise has fallen in love with Vénus, is wracked with jealousy.  In Act 4 Vénus conjures a vision of Hésione and Télamon together that makes Anchise jealous, but they discover the goddess' illusion and are reconciled. Meanwhile, the god Neptune is angry with Hésione's father, Laomédon, King of Troy, and destroys the walls of his city and sends a sea monster.  Télamon promises to vanquish the monster provided he is given Hésione's hand in marriage as a reward.  In Act 5 Anchise also tries to kill the sea monster, but is uneffective. Vénus explains to him that she has arranged that only Télamon will be able to defeat it and so win Hésione. The Trojans celebrate Télamon's victory and his betrothal to the princess. Anchise curses them and predicts Troy's final destruction. The gods award Anchise to Vénus, who has her Zephyrs carry him off for herself.

Notes on this reconstruction:  The scores that date from the time of the 1700 premiere are partitions réduites that lack the inner choral and orchestral parts, but are full of indications regarding instrumentation and staging.  The set of partbooks that date from 1724 are incomplete, but are useful for filling in some of the missing parts and establishing the presence of the basso-continuo.  The two MS scores that date from the 1743 revival are partitions générales--one of which has the orchestra in 5 parts, the other in 4 parts (lacking the quinte de violon).  Both are full of mistakes.  Therefore, the method of reconstruction is as follows:  (1) enter the notes of the 1700 score in black, adding staging rubrics from the 1700 livret; (2) add missing parts from the 1724 partbooks in blue, when needed; (3) add inner choral and instrumental parts from the 1740 MS in 5-parts in green; (4) check these parts against the other 1743 MS in 4-parts, making corrections and additions in lavender; (5) in the case of obvious mistakes, editorial corrections will be in red.

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