Dramatic Vocalise Database

Roussel, Albert (1869–1937)

Aeneas, Op. 54 (1935)

Toward the end of his life Roussel once again turned to dramatic vocalization in his ballet with chorus, Aeneas, op. 54. Commissioned by Hermann Scherchen and dedicated to the memory of Henry Le Bœuf, founder of the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Roussel’s last ballet, premiered on 31 July 1935, benefited from choreography by Leonid Kachurovsky, who also danced the title role. According to Nicole Labelle, “the Belgian press was unanimous in its praise for this very personal work.” 1

The only section within this ballet to incorporate dramatic vocalization is the “Danse des ombres,” reminiscent of Berlioz’s earlier Le Ballet des ombres. The vocal parts (soprano and alto only during this section)—first on the vowel “Au,” then “Ou”—illustrate Roussel’s intent to portray spectral ghosts similar to those of Berlioz nearly one hundred years earlier.

Roussel, Aeneas, op. 54, Introduction, “Danse des ombres,” mm. 112–23 2

(Nauman 2009, 116–17)



Introduction, "Danse des ombres"


1 Nicole Labelle, “Roussel, Henri,” in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy, http://www.grovemusic.com (accessed 20 November 2006).

2 Albert Roussel, Aeneas (Paris: Durand, 1954), 24–25.