Discover this tragycomedy by Luigi Rossi in three acts, created at the Palais-Royal in Paris on 2nd March 1647, with a libretto by Francesco Buti.

On 2nd March 1647 Mazarin had Orfeo, composed by Luigi Rossi, performed before Queen Anne of Austria and her children, among whom Louis XIV then aged 9; it was the first opera to be performed in France, in a breath-taking staging by the great engineer Giacomo Torelli.

Everything was new in these performances: the discovery of the great Italian castrati by the French public, the 24 King’s violins sharing the orchestra pit with many Italian musicians, a tragicomedy that would lay the groundwork for the future bases of French opera invented by Lully, or the machinery used for the changes of sets, that produced effects unknown until then.

But above all an incredibly rich score, which Luigi Rossi had all the time necessary to compose, with some of the most touching lamenti of the 17th century, a rich and agile use of ensembles (from the triple choir prologue to Orpheus’s sublime tears with four women’s voices) and an incredibly lively recitative. Because of its completely new Franco-Italian specificity, the orchestra also offers a rich palette of musical colours: the 24 King’s violins, cornetts, sackbuts, citterns, lira da braccio, colascione, flageolets, regal, etc…. 

Unfairly forgotten because of its ambitious proportions and its lack of musical sources, this is a French staged re-creation with French and Italian artists, some confirmed young talents such as Judith van Wanroij, Marc Mauillon, Giulia Semenzato, Francesca Aspromonte together with acknowledged specialists of the 17th century Italian repertoire. A musical celebration worthy of the splendours of the French court!



Luigi Rossi (1597-1653)

Tragicomedy in music in three acts with a prologue.Libretto by Francesco Buti.
Created at the Palais-Royal in Paris on 2nd March 1647

With surtitles in English & French



  • Choir and Orchestra of the Ensemble Pygmalion
  • Raphaël Pichon Conductor
  • Jetske Mijnssen Director
  • Judith van Wanroij Orfeo
  • Francesca Aspromonte Euridice


Practical information

Royal Opera

Friday 3rd march 2017 – 8pm

Saturday 4th march 2017 – 7pm


More information Book online