Le Cid (Opera)

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Opera dates
Title: Le Cid
Poster of the premiere

Poster of the premiere

Shape: Opera in four acts and ten scenes
Original language: French
Music: Jules Massenet
Libretto : Louis Gallet , Édouard Blau , Adolphe d'Ennery
Literary source: Pierre Corneille : Le Cid ,
Guillén de Castro : Las mocedades del Cid
Premiere: November 30, 1885
Place of premiere: Salle Garnier of the Paris Opera
Playing time: approx. 2 ¼ hours
Place and time of the action: Spain, 2nd half of the 11th century
  • Chimène, Jimena Díaz ( dramatic soprano )
  • The Infanta, Urraca by Zamora ( soprano )
  • Rodrigue, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called El Cid ( tenor )
  • Don Diègue, father Rodrigues ( bass )
  • The King, Ferdinand I ( baritone )
  • The Count of Gormas (high bass)
  • Saint Jacques, Apparition of Saint James (baritone)
  • The Moorish envoy (high bass)
  • Don Arias (tenor)
  • Don Alonzo (bass)
  • Lords and ladies of the court, bishops, priests, monks, captains, soldiers, people, pages, servants, entourage of the Moorish ambassador, Moorish musicians, prisoners ( choir and extras)
  • Ballet in the second and third act

Le Cid is an opera in four acts and ten scenes by Jules Massenet (music) with a libretto by Louis Gallet , Édouard Blau and Adolphe d'Ennery based on the tragicomedy Le Cid (1637) by Pierre Corneille and the play Las mocedades del Cid ( 1618) by Guillén de Castro . The premiere took place on November 30, 1885 in the Salle Garnier of the Paris Opera .


The opera is about Rodrigue (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known as El Cid ), the Spanish hero of the Moorish Wars, and his love affair with Chimène ( Jimena Díaz ), the daughter of the Count of Gormas. Rodrigue is knighted by the king. Gormas, on the other hand, hopes to be appointed educator of the Infante. But the king opts for Rodrigue's father Diègue. Gormas Diègue beats himself beside himself with anger. Since he is not able to restore his honor due to his age, he asks his son to do so. Rodrigue kills Gormas in a duel - knowing that he now has to give up his hope in his daughter Chimène. A declaration of war by the Moors prevents Chimène's desire for royal retribution, because Rodrigue has to go into battle as the new general. On the eve of the battle, a vision of Saint James promised him victory. After the battle and a hoax about his death, Rodrigue triumphantly entered the city in the final act. The king promises to grant him a wish as a reward - but Rodrigues only longing is Chimène's forgiveness. After overcoming her conflict of conscience and asking her dead father's forgiveness, Chimène gives in. The couple are happily united.

first act

First picture. Salon in the house of the Count of Gormas in Burgos

1st picture. Scene model
( Eugène Carpezat )

In the background a large window overlooking a street with houses with flags. Fanfares in the distance.

Scene 1. The Count of Gormas, Don Alonzo, Don Arias and other noblemen talk about the fact that the King wants to knight Don Rodrigue despite his young age. Gormas himself hopes to be appointed tutor of the prince.

Scene 2. Gormas' daughter Chimène joins them in a good mood. She loves Rodrigue and Gormas is happy to consent to marriage. Gormas and his friends are on their way to the ceremony.

Scene 3. While Chimène is jubilant, pages show the melancholy Infanta in. She confesses to Chimène that she also loves Rodrigue, but because of her status she cannot hope for him. She therefore left him to Chimène (No. 1. Duet Chimène / Infanta: “Laissez le doute dans mon âme”).

Second picture. A gallery that leads from the palace to one of the entrances to the cathedral

2nd picture. Scene model
(Eugène Carpezat)

A statue of St. James on a column in the center. Between the pillars you can see the city in bright sunlight. Bells ringing.

Scene 1. The Infanta, Chimène, the King, Diègue, Gormas, Arias, Alonzo, the Infanta 's ladies, priests, noblemen and people praise St. James for his support in the last battle against the Moors. When the king orders his pages to fetch Rodrigue, his father Don Diègue feels so honored that he wants to kneel down. The king prevents this and asks him to sit down with him.

Scene 2. The pages lead in Rodrigue, who bows reverently to the king. Everyone is impressed by its appearance. Rodrigue swears his allegiance to the king and receives the accolade from him. Then he asks Saint James for help (No. 2. Aria Rodrigue: “Ô noble lame étincelante”). Then his gaze falls on Chimène, in whom he sees a heavenly apparition, and vows to her of his eternal bond. All but the king, Diègue, Gormas and his friends enter the cathedral where Rodrigue is to repeat the oath. The king now appoints Diègue as his son's tutor. Gormas reacts with a violent outburst of anger and is reprimanded by the king before he withdraws to his palace.

Scene 3. Diègue tries to arrange the marriage of their children Rodrigue and Chimène with Gormas - but Gormas reacts irritably, insults Diègue and hits him with the glove in the face, whereupon the two cross their blades. Gormas quickly knocks the sword out of old Diègue's hand and leaves. The Count's friends say goodbye mockingly.

Scene 4. While Rodrigue's oath resounds from the cathedral, Diègue abandons himself to his despair over the shame he has suffered (No. 3. Arie Diègue: “Ô rage! Ô désespoir!”).

Scene 5. When Rodrigue appears beaming on the threshold of the church door, his father makes him swear to restore his honor (No. 4. Duet Rodrigue / Diègue: “Rodrigue, as-tu du cœur?”). Rodrigue realizes that he no longer has the opportunity to be reunited with Chimène.

Second act

Third picture. A street in Burgos

3rd picture. Scene model
(Henri Robecchi and Amable)
3rd picture. The Count's Death

Night with weak moonlight. On the right the Count's palace, on the left a picture of the Madonna with an eternal lamp.

Scene 1. Rodrigue ponders his fate in despair. Vengeance commands him to kill his own happiness with his father Chimènes (No. 5. Stances Rodrigue: “Percé jusques au fond du cœur”).

Scene 2. When the count appears on the threshold of the palace, Rodrigue challenges him to a fight (No. 6. Rodrigue / Gormas duet: “A moi, Comte, deux mots!”). At first Gormas proudly rejects him, but then also pulls his sword. Rodrigue kills him and then abandons himself to despair.

Scene 3. Startled by the noise, people pour in from all sides. Diègue comes with his friends and hugs his son gratefully for saving his honor. Rodrigue, however, mourns his lost happiness. Servants carry the count's body to the palace.

Scene 4. Chimène appears in the door of the palace and swears to death to the murderer. After questioning the bystanders, she recognizes to her horror in Rodrigue the guilty party.

Fourth picture. Burgos main square

4th picture. Scene model
(Henri Robecchi and Amable)
4th picture. ballet
4th picture. Boabdil's envoy declares war on the king

On the left the royal palace. Spring celebration. Bright sunshine. Colorful hustle and bustle. Dances.

Scene 1. The Infanta distributes alms among the happily singing people (No. 7. Aria of the Infanta: “Plus de tourments… et plus de peine”). A ballet follows.

Scene 2. The king appears in the door of the palace with Rodrigue and other nobles and is greeted by the people and the Infanta. Chimène rushes over and demands justice for the death of her father (No. 8. Arie Chimène: "Lorsque j'irai dans l'ombre").

Scene 3. Diègue joins Chimène during the last words and declares that his son was only defending his honor. A brief tumult ensued between the supporters of both parties until the king ordered silence and allowed Diègue to speak (No. 9. Arie Diègue: “Qu'on est digne d'envie”). The king cannot make up his mind to pass judgment, but refers to God's righteousness. Chimène is not that easy to appease. Suddenly trumpets sound behind the scene. A Moorish messenger appears with his entourage and declares war on the king in the name of his ruler Boabdil . Since the previous general Gormas is dead, the king accepts Diègues' proposal to appoint Rodrigue as the new general. He is willing to risk his life for the cause. Chimènes has to postpone her revenge.

Third act

Fifth picture. Chimène's room

5th picture. No. 10. Aria Chimène: "Pleurez, pleurez, mes yeux" ( Marguerita Sylva 1910)
5th picture. Rodrigue says goodbye to Chimène

Scene 1. Chimène laments the stroke of fate (No. 10. Aria Chimène: “Pleurez, pleurez mes yeus!”).

Scene 2. Rodrigue enters her room to say goodbye to her before the battle. He hopes that she will never forget her love (No. 11. Duet Chimène / Rodrigue: “Ô jours de première tendresse”). Chimène assures him that she could never hate him. She longs for revenge and at the same time fears that she will come. She asks him to show himself strong in battle, in this way to reconcile fate and return as a victor. Rodrigue sees this as a sign of her forgiveness. Chimène, on the other hand, regrets her words and leaves the room confused.

Scene 3. In his thirst for action, Rodrigue can hardly wait for the battle. He wants to put the world at the feet of his beloved.

Sixth picture. Rodrigues camp

6 and 8th image. Scene model
(Auguste Rubé, Philippe Chaperon, Marcel Jambon)
6th picture. The ballet in the camp

The sea on the horizon. Dusk. On the left, prisoners of both sexes crouch next to Moorish musicians. Picturesque disorder.

Scene 1. Captains and soldiers carousing and singing (No. 12. Male choir: “Vivons sans peur et sans remords!”). At a sign from the captains, two prisoners stand up and dance to the accompaniment of the musicians (rapsodie mauresque).

Scene 2. Rodrigue asks the soldiers to prepare for the upcoming battle and to prepare for possible death. You need all your strength to face the number of superior opponents. While some of the men are confident of victory, another group advises giving up given their outnumbered. Rodrigue drives away the cowards and promises the rest to watch for them while they rest.

Seventh picture. Rodrigues tent

7th picture. Scene model
(Auguste Rubé, Philippe Chaperon, Marcel Jambon)
7th picture. No. 13. Prière Rodrigue: "Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père!" ( Enrico Caruso 1916)

Scene 1. Rodrigue asks God for help (No. 13. Prière Rodrigue: “Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père!”).

Scene 2. Increasing brightness spreads over the floor of the tent. An apparition of Saint James promises Rodrigue victory.

Eighth picture. The encampment

Breaking Dawn. The warriors come in droves. Blaring trumpets.

Only scene. Confident of victory, Rodrigue encourages his warriors to fight. The Moors rush towards them. The battle begins.

Fourth act

Ninth picture. Hall in the Royal Palace of Granada

9th picture. Scene model
(Jean-Baptiste Lavastre)

Scene 1. A group of soldiers has fled the battle and informs Diègue of Rodrigue's death. Diègue mourns for his son, but is also proud of him (No. 14. Arie Diègue: “Il a fait noblement ce que l'honneur conseille!”). He throws the cowards out angrily.

Scene 2. The Infanta and Chimène join them. They too have heard of the defeat and agree to Diègue's complaint (No. 15. Terzett Infantin / Chimène / Diègue: “Ô cœur deux fois blessé!”).

Scene 3. Trumpets blare in the distance. The king appears and is amazed at the sad mood of those present. When the people outside cheered the victorious Rodrigue, Chimène and the Infanta recognize their mistake.

Tenth picture. Courtyard in the Royal Palace of Granada

10th picture. Scene model
(Jean-Baptiste Lavastre)
10th picture. Rodrigues triumph

Only scene. Everyone has gathered to receive Rodrigues and cheer their savior. Rodrigue marches in at the head of the warriors, priests and prisoners (Marche du Cid) and presents the king with his sword. The king gives him the honorary title "Cid" (as the Moors called him) and promises him the fulfillment of a wish as a reward for his loyalty. But Rodrigue's only wish cannot be fulfilled by the king. The king leaves the decision to Chimène. She explains her conflict of conscience to the congregation and hesitates. At first it looks like she can't forgive Rodrigue. But when he offers to kill himself to fulfill her revenge, she asks her father for forgiveness and explains to the king that she loves Rodrigue. After a mutual oath of love, Chimènes and Rodrigues all cheer the cid.



The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

Music numbers

The opera contains the following musical numbers:

  • Overture

first act

  • No. 1. Duet (Chimène, Infanta): "Laissez le doute dans mon âme" (1st picture, scene 3)
  • Entrée de Rodrigue - Enter Rodrigues (2nd picture, scene 2)
  • No. 2. Aria (Rodrigue): "Ô noble lame étincelante" (2nd picture, scene 2)
  • No. 3. Aria (Diègue): “Ô rage! ô désespoir! "(2nd picture, scene 4)
  • No. 4. Duet (Rodrigue, Diègue): "Rodrigue, as-tu du cœur?" (2nd picture, scene 5)

Second act

  • No. 5. Stances (Rodrigue): "Percé jusques au fond du cœur" (3rd picture, scene 1)
  • No. 6th duet (Rodrigue, Gormas): "A moi, Comte, deux mots!" (3rd picture, scene 2)
  • No. 7. Aria (Infanta): "Plus de tourments… et plus de peine" (4th picture, scene 1)
  • Ballet: Castillane, Andalouse, Aragonaise, Aubade, Catalane, Madrilène, Navarraise (4th picture, after scene 1)
  • No. 8. Aria (Chimène): "Lorsque j'irai dans l'ombre" (4th image, scene 2)
  • No. 9. Aria (Diègue): "Qu'on est digne d'envie" (4th image, scene 3)

Third act

  • Entr'acte - intermediate act
  • No. 10. Aria (Chimène): "Pleurez, pleurez mes yeus!" (5th picture, scene 1)
  • No. 11. Duet (Chimène, Rodrigue): "Ô jours de première tendresse" (5th picture, scene 2)
  • No. 12. Male choir: "Vivons sans peur et sans remords!" (6th picture, scene 1)
  • Rapsodie mauresque - Moorish Rhapsody (6th image, after scene 1)
  • No. 13. Prière / prayer (Rodrigue): "Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père!" (7th picture, scene 1)

Fourth act

  • No. 14. Aria (Diègue): "Il a fait noblement ce que l'honneur conseille!" (9th picture, scene 1)
  • No. 15. Trio (Infanta, Chimène, Diègue): "Ô cœur deux fois blessé!" (9th picture, scene 2)
  • Marche du Cid - March of the Cid (10th picture)


The focus of the opera is on the love affair between the "Cid" Rodrigue and Chimène as well as the conflict between morality and feeling. The historical background takes a back seat to the psychological drama. In addition, with the appearance of Saint James there is a characteristic of the fantastic. The real main character is Chimène. Massenet strengthened its dramatic significance by adding the scene Adolphe d'Ennerys to the original libretto , in which she recognizes Rodrigue as her father's murderer. The other figures step back towards her. Even the title character Rodrigue is mainly shown as a "knightly hero".

Formally, Massenet adhered to the needs of the Paris Opera. Le Cid is therefore in the tradition of the grand opéra , as suggested by Giacomo Meyerbeer, for example. B. in whose opera Le prophète was coined. This model is particularly unmistakable in the expressive solo pieces, the large crowd scenes as well as the type of voice leading, melody formation and instrumentation. The opera includes processions, ballets and a battle scene. August Vitu, the reviewer of Figaro on the day after the premiere, noticed that Massenet no longer used conventional musical numbers, but divided the opera mainly into nudes and pictures (tableaux).

The opera's highlights are the overture, which is structured in sonata form , Chimène's aria “Pleurez mes yeux” and the two arias Rodrigues, “Ô noble lame étincelante” and “Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père”. Ballet music is also considered to be "one of the most successful of the time" ( Piper's Encyclopedia of Music Theater ) "because of the originality of the invention and the unheard-of coloristic brilliance" and remained in the program even after the opera itself had disappeared from the repertoire.

Work history


With Le Cid , Massenet made a successful return to the Paris Opera, where his Le roi de Lahore had been performed eight years earlier . In the previous year he had already celebrated successes with Manon at the Opéra-Comique and with Hérodiade at the Théâtre-Italien .

Massenet received the first version of the libretto from his publisher Georges Hartmann. It came from Louis Gallet and Édouard Blau and was based on the tragic comedy Le Cid (1637) by Pierre Corneille . Massenet felt immediately addressed by the text. Shortly afterwards he received another libretto from Adolphe d'Ennery , from which he took over a section. He got the idea for the appearance of the apparition of Saint James after reading the play Las mocedades del Cid (1618) by Guillén de Castro . For ballet music he used some dances heard in Spain. According to contemporary reports, Massenet modeled each of the roles after a person around him.

In early 1885, Massenet mainly worked on the orchestration of Le Cid - in addition to his other work as a teacher and conductor of some of his earlier operas. On June 5, the work was "almost complete," and on June 23, the orchestral score engraving was finished.

The material had already been processed by around 20 other composers before Massenet, including Niccolò Piccinni ( Il gran Cid, 1766) and Giovanni Paisiello ( Il gran Cid , 1775).


The cast for the premiere on November 30, 1885 in the Salle Garnier of the Paris Opera was suggested by Massenet himself. Fidès Devriès (Chimène), Rosa Bosman (Infanta), Jean de Reszke (Rodrigue), his brother Édouard de Reszke (Don Diègue), Léon Melchissédec (King), Pol Plançon (Count of Gormas), Lambert (Saint Jacques) sang , Balleroy (envoy), Alexander Girardi (Don Arias), Sentein (Don Alonzo). The musical direction was Jules Garcin , the direction came from Pierre Gailhard and the choreography from Louis Mérante. Besides the latter, the dancers included Rosita Mauri and Mélanie Hirsch. French President Jules Grévy was present at the performance, while Massenet himself was absent because he was attending a performance of his Manon . On the way back he made a detour to the Opéra, where he learned of his triumph.

In addition to scenes and models, more than 120 costume sketches by the painter Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic have been preserved from the premiere production of 1885 .


The great success of the premiere lasted for several decades, to which the loyalty of the De Reske brothers and Pol Plançons played a large part. Continuously until 1891, then with interruptions until 1919, the work was performed a total of 152 times at the Paris Opera. Important interpreters of the main roles during this period were:

The work was rated differently in the professional world. Some critics thought it was old-fashioned. On the other hand, it was recognized by Johannes Weber (Meyerbeer's secretary in Paris) and the composer Ernest Reyer . Arthur Pougin regarded it as “a work full of charm, poetry, tenderness and passion, in which vitality is not excluded, and which sometimes reaches true greatness” (“une œuvre pleine de charme, de poésie, de tendresse et de passion, dont la vigueur n'est pas exclue, et qui atteint parfois à la véritable grandeur ”).

As early as 1887, Le Cid was also played in Nantes, Bordeaux, Antwerp and, in a German translation by Max Kalbeck, in Frankfurt am Main and in Vienna (there was only a respectable success). An Italian version by Angelo Zanardini was performed in Rome (with Elena Teoderini, Franco Cardinali , Roberto Villani and Romano Nannetti ), and in Milan in 1890 (with Hariclea Darclée as Chimène and Giuseppe Verdi in the audience). The opera came to the USA in 1890 (New Orleans) and 1897 (New York, with Félia Litvinne as Chimène and the participants in the world premiere in the other roles, but only reserved recording).

Then the opera got a. a. Due to casting problems, it was forgotten until it was performed again in a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1976 under the direction of Eve Queler (Chimẻne: Grace Bumbry , Rodrigue: Plácido Domingo , Diège: Paul Plishka ; audio recording available). Another concert performance was given at the Hamburg State Opera in 1979. It was not until 1986 that the opera was staged again in a co-production by Liège and Rouen (conductor: Roger Rosel, director: Christiane Isartel, set design: Georges and Jeanne Wakhévitch; singers: Dunja Vejzovic , André Jobin ). There were further productions in Barcelona in 1999 and again in Paris in 2015 (conductor: Michel Plasson , director: Charles Roubaud , set design: Emmanuelle Favre ; Chimène: Sonia Ganassi , Rodrigue: Roberto Alagna ; video recording available). In 2016 Le Cid was given at the 11th St. Gallen Festival .


Web links

Commons : Le Cid (Massenet)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i Maurice Leblanc: Le Cid. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater . Volume 3: Works. Henze - Massine. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-492-02413-0 , pp. 749-751.
  2. a b Cid. Work information on artlyriquefr.fr, accessed on December 22, 2016.
  3. Stefan Schmidl: Jules Massenet - His life, his work, his time. Schott, Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-254-08310-4 .
  4. ^ A b c Nick Fuller: Jules Massenet - His Life and Works ( PDF on MusicWeb international), pp. 12-13.
  5. a b c d e f Demar Irvine: Massenet. A Chronicle of His Life and Times. Amadeus Press, Portland 1994, ISBN 0-931340-63-2 .
  6. a b c d e Rodney Milnes:  Le Cid. In: Grove Music Online (English; subscription required).
  7. ^ Kurt Pahlen : The new opera lexicon. Seehamer, Weyarn 2000, ISBN 3-934058-58-2 , pp. 387-388.
  8. ^ Il gran Cid (Niccolò Piccinni) in the Corago information system of the University of Bologna .
  9. ^ Il gran Cid (Giovanni Paisiello) in the Corago information system of the University of Bologna .
  10. a b Reclam's Opera Lexicon. Philipp Reclam jun., 2001. Digital Library, Volume 52, p. 449.
  11. November 30, 1885: “Le Cid”. In: L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia ..
  12. ^ Pictures by Le Cid at Gallica .
  13. ^ Félix Clément: Dictionnaire des opéras. Appendix by Arthur Pougin. 1903.
  14. ^ Le Cid (Jules Massenet) in the Corago information system of the University of Bologna .
  15. ^ Arie d'Opera, Operetta e Napoletane Classiche d'Autore. DUO DARCLEE , accessed December 25, 2016.
  16. David Karlin: After a century, Massenet's opera Le Cid returns to its place of birth. Performance review of March 31, 2015 on bachtrack.com, accessed December 25, 2015.
  17. Thomas Molke: Revenge for the Fathers. Performance review in Online Musik Magazin, accessed December 25, 2016.
  18. a b c d e f g Jules Massenet. In: Andreas Ommer: Directory of all opera complete recordings. Zeno.org , volume 20.
  19. Roberto Alagna chante Le Cid de Jules Massenet à l'Opéra de Marseille ( Memento of December 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) on Mezzo TV , accessed on December 22, 2016.
  20. Jules Massenet: Le Cid on concertonet.com, accessed December 22, 2016.