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Ercole amante (Hercules in Love, French: Hercule amoureux) is an opera in a prologue and five acts by Francesco Cavalli. Its Italian libretto is by Francesco Buti, based on Sophocles' The Trachiniae and on the ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The first performance took place on 7 February 1662 in the Salle des Machines of the Tuileries in Paris.


Cardinal Mazarin commissioned the opera to celebrate the June 1660 wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain, but preparations for the staging were on a grand scale and caused a twenty-month delay, irritating the composer. Worse for him, eighteen ballet entrées and intermèdes with music by Isaac de Benserade and Jean-Baptiste Lully were inserted, mostly at the ends of Cavalli's acts, to cater to French taste. These were not merely diversions but also served to further the plot,[1] and in the event they met with greater approval from the audience than Ercole amante itself, helping boost Lully's position at the French court.

Performance historyEdit

After its premiere the opera was given another seven times: 14 and 18 February; 18, 22, 25, and 29 April; and 6 May. The theatre was built specifically to present the opera, and if the construction costs of the theatre are included, it was the most expensive of the French court's theatrical productions mounted up to that point.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 7 February 1662
Cinzia soprano Giuseppe Meloni
Ercole bass Vincenzo Piccini
Deianira, Ercole's wife soprano Leonora Ballarini
Hyllo, son of Ercole tenor Giuseppe Agostino Poncelli
Iole soprano Anna Bergerotti
La bellezza soprano Anne de La Barre
Giunone soprano castrato Antonio Rivani
Mercurio tenor Tagliavacca
Nettuno bass Paolo Bordigone
Venere soprano Hylaire Dupuis
Tevere bass Beauchamps
Eutyro bass Paolo Bordigoni
Licco contralto Giuseppe Chiarini
Shade of King Laomedonte tenor Vulpio
Shade of Bussiride contralto Zanetto
Shade of Queen Clerica contralto Anne de La Barre
Pasithea soprano
Sonno mezzo-soprano
Paggio soprano


  1. ^ Clinkscale 1992; Coeyman 1998, p. 55.
  2. ^ Coeyman 1998, p. 55.
  • (in Italian) Amadeus Almanac, accessed 26 October 2008
  • Clinkscale, Martha Novak (1992), "Ercole amante" in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  • Coeyman, Barbara (1998). "Opera and Ballet in Seventeenth-Century French Theatres: Case Studies of the Salle des Machines and the Palais Royal Theater" in Radice 1998, pp. 37–71.
  • Radice, Mark A., editor (1998). Opera in Context: Essays on Historical Staging from the Late Renaissance to the Time of Puccini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 9781574670325.

External linksEdit