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Agibaeva M.

Myth about Cupid and Psyche in French cantatas of the first half of the 18th century

The article is devoted to an interpretation of the mythological theme of Cupid and Psyche in five secular cantatas by French composers of the first half of the 18th century: Nicolas Bernier (1664–1734), Thomas-Louis Bourgeois (1676–1750), Jean-Baptiste Morin (1677–1745) and Jean-Baptiste Stuck (1680–1755). The cantatas are analysed in respect to the plot interpretation and its influence on the composition. The most traditional structure is based on a small scene “recitative – aria”, and its change occurs by shortening or expanding, namely introducing an accompanied recitative, an instrumental introduction (prelude). The normative structure is characteristic of the cantatas «Le Triomphe de Psiché» («Psiсhe’s Triumph») by N. Bernier and «Psiché» («Psiche») by T.-L. Bourgeois. The non-normative structure is examined on the material of the cantatas «Psiché et ses soeurs» («Psyche and her sisters») by J.-B. Morin, «Psiché» («Psyche») by J.-B. Stuck, «L’Amour et Psiché» («Cupid and Psyche») by T.-L. Bourgeois.

While taking one and the same myth, the composers reveal its meaning and content in a different way depending on the type of the plot characteristic of this or that cantata. The most organic for a non-stage genre is a generalised mythological plot without development but a representation of the situation which gives the listener an allusion to the myth (the cantatas by N. Bernier and the solo cantata by T.-L.Bourgeois). N. Bernier’s cantata «Psyche’s Triumph» is devoted mainly to Cupid’s glorification, and Psyche’s triumph is concentrated in the final small scene. The theme of love is concentrated in the dialogical cantata «Cupid and Psyche» by T.-L. Bourgeois. A more detailed subject of the myth is revealed in the dialogical cantata by T.-L. Bourgeois, the solo cantata by J.-B. Stuck, and the most dramaturgically complex is the cantata for three voices «Psyche and her sisters» by J.-B. Morin. All the cantatas draw analogies in content from the IV–VI books of Apuleius’s «Tale of Cupid and Psyche».

Key words

Cupid and Psyche, French cantata, Nicolas Bernier, Thomas-Louis Bourgeois, Jean- Baptiste Morin, Jean-Baptiste Stuck.

For citation

Agibaeva M. Myth about Cupid and Psyche in French cantatas of the first half of the 18th century // South-Russian musical anthology. 2020. Nо 1. Pp. 42–53.