Les Indes galantes (French: "The Amorous Indies") Opéra-ballet with a prologue and two entrées. Choreography: Louis Dupré. Music: Jean-Philippe Rameau. Libretto: Louis Fuzelier. Sets: Giovanni-Niccolò Servandoni. First performance: 23 August 1735, Théâtre de l'Académie de Musique, Paris. Principals: David Dumoulin, Louis Dupré, M. le Breton, M. Javellier, Marie Sallé.
The premiere, including only the prologue and the first two of its four entrées (acts), was staged by the Académie Royale de Musique at its theatre in the Palais-Royal in Paris on 23 August 1735, starring the leading singers of the Opéra, Marie Antier, Marie Pélissier, Mlle Errémans, Mlle Petitpas, Denis-François Tribou, Pierre Jélyotte, and Claude-Louis-Dominique Chassé de Chinais, and the dancers Marie Sallé and Louis Dupré. Michel Blondy provided the choreography. The ballet's Premier Menuet was used in the soundtrack of the 2006 film Marie Antoinette.
In 1725, French settlers in Illinois sent Chief Agapit Chicagou of the Mitchigamea and five other chiefs to Paris. On 25 November 1725, they met with King Louis XV. Chicagou had a letter read pledging allegiance to the crown. They later danced three kinds of dances in the Théâtre-Italien, inspiring Rameau to compose his rondeau Les Sauvages.
The premiere met with a lukewarm reception from the audience and, at the third performance, a new entrée was added under the title Les Fleurs. However, this caused further discontent because it showed the hero disguised as a woman, which was viewed either as an absurdity or as an indecency. As a result, it was revised for the first time and this version was staged on 11 September. Notwithstanding these initial problems, the first run went on for twenty-eight performances between 23 August and 25 October, when, however, only 281 livres were grossed, the lowest amount ever collected at the box office by Les Indes galantes.
Nevertheless, when it was mounted again on 10 (or 11) March 1736, a very large audience flocked to the theatre resulting in "prodigious" takings. The entrée des Fleurs was "replaced with a version in which the plot and all the music except the divertissement was new", and a fourth entrée, Les Sauvages, was added, in which Rameau reused the famous air des Sauvages he had composed in 1725 on the occasion of the American Indian chiefs' visit and later included in the Nouvelles Suites de pièces de clavecin (1728).
Now in something approaching a definitive form, the opera enjoyed six performances in March and was then mounted again as of 27 December. Further revivals were held in 1743-1744, 1751 and 1761 for a combined total of 185 billings. The work was also performed in Lyon on 23 November 1741, at the theatre of the Jeu de Paume de la Raquette Royale, and again in 1749/1750, at the initiative of Rameau's brother-in-law, Jean-Philippe Mangot. Furthermore, the prologue and individual entrées were often revived separately and given within the composite operatic programs called 'fragments' or 'spectacles coupés' (cut up representations) that: "were almost constant fare at the Palais-Royal in the second half of the eighteenth century". The prologue, Les Incas and Les Sauvages were last given respectively in 1771 (starring Rosalie Levasseur, Gluck's future favourite soprano, in the role of Hebé), 1772 and 1773 (also starring Levasseur as Zima). Thenceforth Les Indes galantes was dropped from the Opéra's repertoire, after having seen almost every artiste of the company in the previous forty years take part in its complete or partial performances.
In the twentieth century the Opéra-Comique presented the first version of the Entrée des Fleurs, with a new orchestration by Paul Dukas, on 30 May 1925, in a production conducted by Maurice Frigara, with Yvonne Brothier as Zaïre, Antoinette Reville as Fatima, Miguel Villabella as Tacmas and Emile Rousseau as Ali.
Finally, Les Indes galantes was revived by the Opéra itself, at the Palais Garnier, with the Dukas orchestration supplemented for the other entrées by Henri Busser, on 18 June 1952: the production, managed by the Opéra's own director, Maurice Lehmann and conducted by Louis Fourestier, was notable for the lavishness of its staging and enjoyed as many as 236 performances by 29 September 1961. The sets were by André Arbus and Jacques Dupont (1909 - 1978) (prologue and finale), Georges Wakhevitch (first entrée), Jean Carzou (second entrée), Henri Raymond Fost (1905-1970) and Maurice Moulène (third entrée) and Roger Chapelain-Midy [fr] (fourth entrée); the choreography was provided by Albert Aveline (1883-1968) (first entrée), Serge Lifar (second and fourth entrées) and Harald Lander (third entrée).
In the 1st Entrée ("The Gracious Turk"), Jacqueline Brumaire sang Emilie, Jean Giraudeau was Valère and Hugo Santana was Osman; the dancers were Mlle Bourgeois and M Legrand. In the 2nd Entrée, ("The Incas of Peru"), Marisa Ferrer was Phani, Georges Noré was don Carlos, and René Bianco was Huascar, while Serge Lifar danced alongside Vyroubova and Bozzoni. The 3rd Entrée, ("The Flowers") had Janine Micheau as Fatima, side by side with Denise Duval as Zaïre. Giraudeau was Tacmas and Jacques Jansen, the famous Pelléas, was Ali, with Mlle Bardin dancing as the Rose, Mlle Dayde as the Butterfly, Ritz as Zéphir and Renault as a Persian. The 4th Entrée, ("The Savages of America"), had Mme Géori Boué, as Zima, with José Luccioni as Adario, Raoul Jobin as Damon and Roger Bourdin as don Alvar. The dancing for this act was executed by Mlles Darsonval, Lafon and Guillot and Messieurs Kalioujny and Efimoff.