Joseph Martin Kraus (1756−1792)

Proserpin [Proserpina]

VB 19

  • Year of composition: June, 1780 - March, 1781 (according to van Boer)
  • Work category: Opera
  • Text author: Johan Henric Kellgren (1751-1795) after a sketch by Gustav III (also the French librettist Philippe Quinault's opera 'Proserpine' from 1680 has likely inspired this work)
  • First performed: 1 June 1781 [probably a concert] performance at Confidencen, Ulriksdal Palace for Gustav III and the court.

    31 May 1980 a stage premiere performance at Drottningholm Palace Theatre. Contributors: Iwa Sörenson (Proserpin), Birgit Nordin (Ceres), Dorrit Kleimert (Cyane) et al.
  • Duration: Approx. 120-180 min
  • Detailed duration: 75'14 + 50'01 according to MSCD 422-423 (some parts of the opera have been excluded in the recording)

Instrumentation / / cont / str (2 violetta in N.7-9)

Solo voices/choir

Proserpin, Daughter of Jupiter and Ceres (soprano)
Ceres, Proserpin's mother (soprano)
Cyane/A Nymph, Proserpin's nymph (soprano)
Atis, Cyane's lover, also in love with Proserpin (tenor)
Pluto, god of the Underworld and Jupiter's brother, also in love with Proserpin (baritone)
Jupiter, the highest god (baritone)
Mercurius, Jupiter's messenger (tenor)
A Bacchant/A Faun (tenor)

Choir of Sicilians, of Proserpin's Nymphs, Bacchantes, etc.

Soloists: 3 sopranos (Proserpin, Ceres, Cyane/A Nymph), 2(3) tenors (Atis, Mercurius, A Bacchante/A Faun), 2 baritones (Jupiter, Pluto)
Soloist ensembles: S.S.T., T.T.B., S.S.T.B.
Choirs: Female choirs (S.S.S.), (S.S.S.S.A.A.), Male choir (T.T.B.B.), Mixed choir (S.S.T.T.B.) et al.

Examples of printed editions

Musikaliskt Allehanda 2/3 (1824) [According to van Boer only the overture, in an arrangement for pianoforte by von Ebeling]
Musikaliskt tidsfördrif (1808) [No. 32a; no name of the composer]

Levande musikarv, Stockholm 2014. Critical edition by Anders Wiklund.

Location for score and part material

According to van Boer there a transcription dated Vienna 1801 and Stockholm 1804 by Fredrik Samuel Silverstolpe and 'Silverstolpe B' [unknown copyist in Vienna working under Silverstolpe] at Uppsala University Library: Kapsel [Sleeve] 57:3a, 14 Proserpine [sic] Opera uti 1. Transcriptions also exist at Musik- och teaterbiblioteket.

  • Location autograph: Musik- och teaterbiblioteket
  • Possible call no. and autograph comment: Z/Sv (score)


van Boer Jr, Bertil H: Die Werke von Joseph Martin Kraus. Systematisch-thematisches Werkverzeichnis, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music series no. 56, Stockholm (1988); an updated edition in English with a partly revised VB numbering was published in 1998 by Pendragon Press under the title Joseph Martin Kraus. A Systematic-Thematic Catalogue of His Musical Works and Source Study. (The numbering of this work is however unchanged.)

Description of work

Overture: Largo C major alla breve

Scene 1: A group of Sicilians, celebrating Jofur’s [Jupiter] victory over the rebellious Giatns, who have dared to storm the sky. All leave, except Atis. Atis, Sicilians
Scene 2: Atis, alone
Scene 3: Atis, Cyane
Scene 4: Cyane, alone
Scene 5: Pluto and his entourage. Pluto signs to his entourage to leave. Pluto, Cyane, Pluto’s entourage
Scene 6: Proserpin [Proserpina] and her Nymphs. Ballet, whereafter they disperse and leave Proserpin allone. Proserpin, Nymphs
Scene 7: There is a glipmse of Pluto among the trees. The Spirits of the Abyss rush in on the stage, surrounding Proserpin. They take her up on Pluto’s chariot, whereafter they return to the abyss. Proserpin, Pluto, Spirits of the Abyss
Scene 8: Proserpin’s Nymphs, who have retuned with haste, are horrified at not finding her here. The First Nymph notices Ceres in the sky. The Nymphs withdraw and hide among the trees. Ceres, [First Nymph], Nymphs
Scene 9: Ceres steps down from her chariot. Ceres
Scene 10: Ceres, Nymphs, Forest Gods. All leave.
Scene 11: Ceres alone
Scene 12: Nymphs, Forest Gods, a group of Sicilians (one of whom is Atis) – all with torches in their hands – begin to search after Proserpin. They part and disappear. Atis, Nymphs, Forest Gods, Sicilians
Scene 13: Atis, alone
Scene 14: A group of Bacchantes, ’Silenes’ [creatures with both human and equine traits], Fauns, and Satyrs, celebrating the Festival of Bacchus appear from the forest and encircle Atis. They grab him, wanting to take him with them.
Balletto [sic]: Allegro A major (varying keys) 2/4
They retract into the forest. Atis, Bacchantes, Silenes, Fauns, Satyrs
Scene 15: With big steps, Atis climbs Mount Etna. He throws himself into its flames. Atis
Scene 16: Cyane rushes forward, with the aim of hindering him. She descends into the underworld. Cyane [Atis]
Scene 17: A dark and miserable wasteland. The temple of Ceres can be seen in the background. All depart. Ceres, her Nymphs, and the People of Sicily
Scene 18: Ceres alone
Scene 19: Atis and Cyane ascend from the abyss. Atis, Cyane, Ceres
Scene 20: Mercury descend in a cloud. Mercury, The Above
Scene 21: The sky opens, and Jupiter descends along with the Heavenly Gods. Pluto and Proserpin ascend from the abyss, accompnied by the Gods of the Abyss. Earth Gods. The People of Sicily. Jupiter, Pluto, Proserpin, Gods, the People of Sicily


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Work comment

According to van Boer, Kraus wrote the opera as part of his application for the post as 'Vice-Kapellmeister' of the Swedish court. It was also Kellgrens first authentication of a document written by King Gustav III. Although no more performances were held during Kraus's lifetime, the premiere at Ulriksdal Palace led both Kraus and Kellgren to great success.


No. 1 Chorus: Jupiter, Gudarnes Gud vare ära! (Sicilans)

No. 2 [Recitative]: Så fröjdom oss åt våra glada dar (Atis)

No. 3 Chorus: Kom snart, kom snart igen välgörande Gudinna! (Sicilans)

No. 4 [Recitative]: Du Gudamagt [sic], som sorg och glädje delar, förlåt en billig klagoröst! (Atis)

No. 5 [Aria]: En grym volcan [sic] min själ förtär (Atis)

No. 6 Recitative: Och vore jag olycklig blott, men ack! jag äfven brottslig blifvit (Atis)

No. 7 [Duet]: Ack, kom min Atis, kom tillbaka (Cyane, Atis)

No. 8 [Duet]: Kom! och allt förlåtit [sic] är (Cyane, Atis)

No. 9 Recitative: Han flyr ... och jag bedragen lämnas ... (Cyane)

No. 10 [Aria]: Ack, kärlek, kärlek dina skott till himmel, jord och afgrund hinna. (Pluto)

No. 11 [Choir]: Frid och vackra dagar himlen återger (Nymphs)

No. 12 [Aria with Choir]: Ack, hvad behag ett hjerta njuter (Proserpin, Nymphs)

No. 13 [Recitative]: Täcka blommor, fältets heder (Proserpin)

No. 14 [Duet with Choir]: O himmel, himmel mig försvara! (Proserpin, Pluto, Spirits of the Abyss)

No. 15 Choir of Nymphs, searching after: Proserpin, Proserpin! vi ropa dig (Nymphs)

No. 16 Recitative: Hon hoppas här sin dotter återse (First Nymph, Nymphs)

No. 17 [Recitative]: Jag hela verlden lycklig gjort (Ceres)

No. 18 Recitative: Men, hvad kan detta dröjsmål båda? (Ceres)

No. 19 [Chorus with Recitativ] Choir of Nymphs and Forest Gods: Ceres, Ceres hvilken smärta (Ceres, One of the Nymphs, Nymphs, Forest Gods)

No. 20 [Aria]: O, Joefur! i hvars ömma bröst jag fordom tändt en ljuflig låga (Ceres)

No. 21 [Chorus]: Proserpin, Proserpin, vi ropa dig (Nymphs, Forest Gods, Sicilians)

No. 22 [Recitative]: Förgäfves all vår möda var (Atis)

No. 23 [Aria]: För lifvet jag fasar, med gruflighet rasar en eld i mitt bröst (Atis)

No. 24 [Recitiativ]: Hvem är väl du, som dig beklagar uppå den ort där nöjet rår? (A Bacchante)

No. 25 [Aria with Chorus]: Här lifvas allt af Bacchi lagar (A Bacchante, Choir)

No. 26 [Recitative]: Men räds, om du hans nåd försmår (A Bacchante)

No. 27 Ballet [instrumental]

No. 28 [Aria with Chorus]: Af den dyrkan Bacchus njuter mister Astril [sic] ej sin rätt (A Faun)

No. 29 [Recitative]: Nej, ingen gudamagt en kärlek kan förstöra (Atis)

No. 30 [Aria]: Ack, förskräckliga brott! hvilken grymhet jag öfvat (Cyane)

No. 31 [Chorus]: Gudar! värdens ej försaka den förtryckta dygdens röst (Ceres, Nymphs, Sicilians, General Choir)

No. 32 [Chorus]: Kommen åter, sälla dagar (General Choir)

No. 33 Recitative: Gån! mig er dyrkan ej behagar (Ceres)

No. 34 [Aria]: Mörka öknar! låt mig dölja i ert sköte mina tårar (Ceres)

No. 35 Recitative: Men, djupet öpnar [sic] sig ... och jag Cyane skådar (Ceres, Cyane)

No. 36 Terzetto: Hvad större qual kan väl en moder (Ceres, Cyane, Atis)

No. 37 [Recitative]: Gudinna låt din själ af glädens strålar lifvas (Mercury, Ceres)

No. 38 [Aria]: Gå, Pluto, gå, at din maka njuta (Jupiter)

No. 39 [Chorus]: Gå, Pluto, gå, at din maka njuta (Heavenly Gods, Earth Gods, Gods of the Underworld, General Choir)

No. 40 [Chorus]: Gudar och menskjor [sic] och skuggor beprisen Jupiters milda och rättvisa lag! (All together)

Media files

Edition Swedish Musical Heritage

  • Scores
    • Proserpin - Score (pdf - 12.2 MB  |  Downloaded 3661 times)
      Edition: Levande Musikarv
      Stämmaterialet kan efterfrågas hos/Orchestra parts available from Musikfestspiele Sanssouci und Nikolaisaal Potsdam gGmbH, Wilhelm-Staab-Straße 10/11, D – 144 67 Potsdam.