L’Europe galante

Opera by André Campra

Amorous Adventures under the Southern Sun


On 24 October 1697, Marin Marais – one of the greatest viol players in history – raised his hands to conduct the first performance of André Campra’s opera L’Europe galante at the Paris Opera. It was the first work of the specific French genre opéra-ballet and it was soon admired and imitated all over Baroque Europe. In L’Europe galante, Campra created a masterful musical caricature of the flighty French, the sentimental Spaniards, the jealous Italians and temperamental Turks. He also produced a brilliant synthesis of French and Italian music.


In the same way, the French ensemble Les Folies françoises with its concertmaster Patrick Cohën-Akenine will combine their forces with the Prague Collegium Marianum and its artistic director Jana Semerádová, in order to remind the current Europe how ungallant it has become and how dance and love still have the power to connect. The solo parts will be sung by eminent vocalists from France, the USA and Argentina, including sopranos Chantal Santon-Jeffery and Eugenie Lefebvre, tenor Aaron Sheehan and bas-baritones Douglas Williams and Lisandro Abadie.



L’Europe galante consists of four “entrées” (or scenes): the plot opens with a pastorale set in “La France” and followed by comical scenes from “L’Espagne” and “L’Italie”, and closes with an exotic entrée located in “La Turquie”, featuring a group of oriental characters. The whole opera is preceded by a prologue which takes place in the smithy of gods where Amor’s arrows are just being forged. The goddess of love, Venus, swears to the allegory of Discord that she will show her and the whole world how powerful love is and how triumphant in various cultures and countries.


The fickle and coquettish French are then shown as arguing about matters of love in the charming surroundings of the French countryside, while the faithful and romantic Spaniards sing charming serenades below the balconies of their chosen ones. The jealous, artful and spontaneous Italians act out their dangerous love stories in a splendid dance hall. In Turkey, Campra set the amorous adventure in the environment of sultan’s serial where beautiful ladies compete for the attentions of their generous master. At the close of the opera, La Discorde has to capitulate and hand it to Venus that her power over people’s fates and sentiments is without a limit.


Private: Rudolfinum

Dvořák Hall
náměstí Jana Palacha 79/1, Praha 1 - Staré Město, 110 00

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Partners of the concert

In collaboration with Centre de musique baroque de Versailles and Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci and with kind support of French Institute.