voltaire (1694-1778).

Lot 208
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voltaire (1694-1778).
Manuscript, Pandora, opera; one title leaf and 37 pages in a small in-4 booklet (24.5 x 18.5 cm), bound with a blue silk ribbon (small tear on title page). Voltaire wrote Pandora, a tragedy in five acts, in 1740; Voltaire sometimes calls it Prométhée. It was set to music in 1752, at the request of the marshal of Richelieu, by Pancrace ROYER (1703-1755), who had it retouched by Sireuil, former coat rack of the king, in spite of Voltaire's protests, who declared: "M. de Sireuil is a worthy coat rack of the king; but he would have done better to keep the coats than to disfigure Pandore". The opera of Royer not having been represented, Jean-Benjamin de LABORDE (1734-1794) requested in 1765 the authorization to put in his turn Pandora in music; Voltaire answered him: "Pandora is not a good work, but it can produce a beautiful spectacle and a varied music" (November 4). In September 1766, Laborde came to present his score to Voltaire, who was delighted with it, and who hoped, after a cancellation at the Menus-Plaisirs in 1767, that his play would be given on the occasion of the marriage of the Dauphin (future Louis XVI), in 1770, then in 1773 for that of the Count of Artois (future Charles X). It was not; the play was never represented. It was published in 1748 in volume III of the OEuvres (Dresden, Walther). The characters are Prometheus, son of Heaven and Earth, demigod, Pandora, Jupiter, Mercury, Nemesis, and Nymphs, Titans, celestial and infernal divinities. The present manuscript, which bears on the title page the date of 1744, differs appreciably from the text published by Voltaire; this copy could have been made for a musician.
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