tragicomédie et ballet / tragédie en musique

website designed by John S. Powell


Gobelin Tapestry, depicting the Final Intermède
(east side of the Louvre in the background, as seen from Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois)

Why (on earth!) perform Psyché?

Psyché: A Watershed in French Musical Theater

The Wedding Crashers (a guide to the finale)

A Cartesian analysis of the final ballet de cour

Psyché: the Stakes of a Collaboration
(article to appear in a Festschrift for Rick Caldicott)

The Metamorphosis of Psyché
a paper given at a 2003 Psyché colloquium at the Université de Valenciennes




a river god









homme affligé

femme affligée

a bacchante

a pike-bearer

a satyr

two of the arts

Timeline of events

  • 1657 - Benserade's Ballet de Psyché is performed at court

  • 1658 - the Illustre Théâtre performs a play on Psyché in Rouen; Molière's role was that of Vulcan

  • 1669 - La Fontaine publishes his novella Les Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon (modern ed.)

  • summer of 1670 - Molière is working on a dramatization of Psyché; enlists the aid of Pierre Corneille and Philippe Quinaualt, probably that fall

  • 12 December 1670 - Carlo Vigarani writes that “a grand spectacle is being prepared, which will be given on Epiphany in the theater of the Tuileries”

  • 17 January 1671 - premiere of the tragicomédie et ballet version of Psyché at the Salle des Machines in the Tuileries Palace, with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully; repeat performances on Jan. 19, 24, Feb. 3, 5, 9.  (Philidor ms. copy of score)

  • 25 April 1671 - excerpts from the Quatrième Intermède (Vulcan, Cyclops, Fairies) performed at the Château de Chantilly for Louis XIV and his court

  • 23 May 1671 - the Prologue and Dernier Intermède were performed at Fort Louis, Dunkerque, before the Bastion Royal.  This performance was attended by 23,000 soldier-workmen, and the orchestra was augmented with 700 drums, fifes, oboes, trumpets, and 80 cannon.

  • 21 July-25 October 1671 - first run of Psyché at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal by Molière's troupe (livret)

  • 8 August 1671 - excerpts of Psyché performed for the royal court at Fontainebleau

  • October 1671 - Moliere's play published (first edition)

  • 2 December 1671 - première of Molière's comedy La Comtesse d'Escarbagnas at Saint-Germain en Laye; excerpts of Psyché were incorporated into Le Ballet des Ballets (livret), which was performed as intermèdes

  • 15 January-6 March 1672 - second run of Psyché at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal

  • 11 November 1672-22 January 1673 - third run of Psyché at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal

  • 19 April 1678 - a tragédie en musique version of Psyché premières at the Académie Royale de Musique, incorporating all of the music of the 1671 tragicomédie et ballet version and with new additions by Thomas Corneille (younger brother of Pierre Corneille) and Lully (Philidor ms copy).  According to the Mercure Galant, the conversion was accomplished in three weeks time.

  • October-December 1684 - revival of Psyché at the Comédie-Française, with the music "remis en estat" by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (set design by Joachim Pizzoli)

  • 1686 - Psyché tragédie en musique performed in Wolfenbüttel (livret)

  • 1687 - Psyché tragédie en musique performed in Modena

  • 1698 - Psyché tragédie en musique performed in Lyon

  • 1703 - Psyché tragédie en musique revived at the Académie Royale de Musique

  • 1713 - Psyché tragédie en musique revived at the Académie Royale de Musique

  • 1719 - Psyché tragédie en musique performed in Wolfenbüttel

  • 1737 - Psyché tragédie en musique performed in Marseilles

  • 1987 - tragédie en musique Psyché performed at Festival d'Aix en provence, 21, 25,
    27, 30 juillet, 1987, au théâtre de lArchevêché, DIRECTION MUSICALE : Jean-Claude Malgoire
    MISE EN SCÈNE : Jean-Claude Penchenat DÉCORS : Guy-Claude François  COSTUMES : Françoise Tournafont CHORÉGRAPHIE : Le Ballet Dominique Bagouet

  • 2007 - Psyché performed at the Boston Early Music Festival










pike bearer


a cupid



a zephyr

Jupiter and
his eagle

a satyre

a trumpeter

Modern Editions