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Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau
Librettist: Adrien-Joseph Le Valois d'Orville
Company: Chicago Opera Theater

Performance Dates
Friday, March 08, 2024
Sunday, March 10, 2024 Matinee


After a night of partying, the Chorus wakes Thespis from a drunken sleep. When Thalie and Momus arrive, they seek Thespis' help in planning the presentation of an entertainment in which they will recreate a long-ago attempt by Jupiter to cure his wife, Juno, of her jealousy. Initially left out of the planning, a furious Cupid arrives on the scene and proclaims that it will be impossible to stage the event without him: "how could there be a play without the inspiration of love?" he asks.[20] All four then lay out the plan.

Act 1
In the middle of a raging storm, Mercury comes down from the heavens and explains to Citheron that it is caused by Juno's jealousy and that he has been sent by Jupiter to find a way of taking his mind off the problem. Citheron's solution is to propose the enactment of the plan put together by the four conspirators: Jupiter will pretend to fall in love with the ugly marsh nymph, Platée — who is convinced that everything that comes near her pond is madly in love with her — and, when Juno finds them together and about to marry, she will realize that her jealousy is baseless and the couple will be re-united.

After Platée arrives, Mercury leaves to inform Jupiter. While she seems to believe that it is Cithéron who is in love with her — in spite of his denials — she is delighted to hear from Mercury that Jupiter will soon descend from the heavens and declare his love: "The god of thunder, drawn to earth by your beauty, wishes to cast at your feet both his heart and the Universe."[21] A new storm created by Juno bursts forth, but Platée is not put out and the marsh creatures retreat to their watery homes.

Act 2
Having sent Juno off to Athens, Mercury and Cithéron find a hiding place to observe the proceedings. Accompanied by Momus, Jupiter arrives, revealing himself first as a donkey (to the accompanying sounds of donkey braying from the orchestra), then as an owl, and finally, in person in a clap of thunder and bright light. An extended divertissment proceeds, including a show-stopping highlight in which La Folie (Madness) sings the story of Apollo and Daphne as a warning to Platée not to get involved with Jupiter. Dancers and singers alternately praise and mock Platée.

Act 3
As people arrive for the marriage of Jupiter and Platée, a furious-at-being-tricked Juno has returned from Athens but she is persuaded to hide until the right moment. Momus appears, poorly disguised as Love, and offers "gifts" to Platée. Jupiter and Platée begin to take part in the wedding ceremony, but, stalling after his initial "I swear", he awaits the arrival of Juno. When she finally sees Platée and removes her veil, she realizes that it was all a joke. The gods ascend back to heaven and the humiliated Platée leaps back into the pond.

Chicago Opera Theater