Another Romantic ballet featuring the saxophone: Discover Ambroise Thomas’s La tempête

Recently I went through the Metropolitan Opera’s archives to see if they have any works for saxophone in their performance history that I have yet to find. During this search, I discovered Ambroise Thomas‘s Hamlet was performed for their inaugural season in 1883-84. Did they use the saxophone in the finale of the 2nd act and the 4th act ballet as Thomas intended? Well I started researching and I have yet to find any definitive information, but during this research, I found another work by Thomas based on Shakespeare, La tempête written in 1889. On a whim, I went to see if I could find a full score to see if the ballet is orchestrated with a saxophone and sure enough, La tempête features the alto saxophone.

The solo for the alto saxophone is in Act 2 “Pas de L’Eventail” where it is accompanied by the strings. The full score for the ballet can be found at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

In Act 1, the saxophone is paired with the english horn for “Entree d’Ariel.” Check out the key, concert E major.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any recordings of this ballet. This is a good example of how much more research is needed for this period of music. My initial research on Adolphe Sax and Ambroise Thomas did not mention this ballet, so what else is out there? To learn more, check out Ambroise Thomas’s entries in the database.

Published by Mary Huntimer

Saxophonist, teacher, opera and silent movie enthusiast. All opinions are my own.

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