Personalities | Marc-Antoine Charpentier | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
c. 1645–1704, French
Marc-Antoine Charpentier, a Parisian, was on hand to step into the breach after Lully quarrelled with the French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622–73), whose works Lully had been setting to music. As a result, Charpentier wrote the music for Molière’s Le mariage forcé (‘The Forced Marriage’, 1672) and Le malade imaginaire (‘The Hypochondriac’, 1673). Lully, however, was an expert at court intrigue, and he managed to sideline Charpentier. Molière had great regard for Charpentier and his abilities, but the renowned playwright died in 1673. All the same, Charpentier maintained his connection with Molière’s theatre, the Comédie-Française, and many of his divertissements were staged there, including Les amours de Vénus et d’Adonis (‘The Loves of Venus and Adonis’, 1678). Vénus et d’Adonis proved so popular that it was still being performed there more than 70 years later. Charpentier’s pastorales, such as La noce du village (‘The Village Wedding’, 1692), were equally well received. His masterpiece, however, was a tragédie lyrique, Médée (1693), based on a play of the same name by Pierre Corneille (1606–84).
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