Zaïde, reine de Grenade

Royer composing his opera Zaïde (by Jean-Marc Nattier)

Zaïde, reine de Grenade (Zaïde, Queen of Grenada) is a ballet-héroïque written by the French Baroque composer Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer (c. 1705–1755), to a text by the Abbé de La Marre.

Royer's "sparse but sensuous orchestral textures with flutes and oboes very prominent" have been praised in Zaïde together with "his exuberant choral writing and his fluid treatment of recitative and aria" (Morrison, 2005).

Performance historyEdit

Zaïde was first performed, under the direction of the composer, on 3 September 1739 for the wedding of King Louis XV's daughter, when it ran for 44 performances, and was revived for the wedding of the dauphin in 1745, and again for the wedding of Marie Antoinette in 1770. It has been performed in recent years, thanks to a new edition by Lionel Sawkins.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 3 September 1739
Conductor: Royer
Zaïde soprano Marie Pélissier
Isabelle soprano Eremans
Octave tenor (haute-contre) Pierre Jélyotte
Almanzor tenor (haute-contre) Denis-François Tribou
Zuléma baritone François Le Page
Ballerina   Marie Sallé
Ballerino   Louis Dupré


The plot is quite simple. Queen Zaïde in the Alhambra has to decide between the love of two rival Moorish princes and chooses the good prince.