ON November 28th the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Jean-Baptiste de Lully, who was born on this day in 1632 in Florence, Italy.
Parlaying his looks, his dancing and his musical genius into an erotic/artistic career, he rose from being a scullery knave to becoming director of music in the Court of French King Louis XIV.
By the time he died on March 22, 1687, he had created a new art form and had changed the course of the performing arts forever.
Lully's story has some parallels to the story of Hadrian and Antinous. The parallels are not exact. It is more as though Lully and Louis XIV were a "parallel universe" story of Antinous and Hadrian with bizarre twists thrown in to the plot of the story.
Lully was totally dependent upon the Sun King and was totally devoted to him. When the king expressed a whim to learn to dance, Lully became his dance instructor, creating a whole new art form involving dance and song.
Quite aside from his infamous carousing with boys, Lully was desperately in love with Louis XIV. It was an impossible love, of course. It could never be consummated.
The king viewed Lully as his artistic mentor, but nothing more. Lully viewed the king as the love of his life, and his art was merely an expression of that love.
Unwittingly, Lully planted the seeds for his own doom. Others took his idea and developed it further: And Opera was born.
The king became infatuated with Opera and totally lost interest in Lully's Baroque stage productions. He forgot all about Lully.
For Lully, that was tantamount to death, and he soon died as the result of a tragic "accident" -- he plunged a sharp baton-sceptre through his foot in a rage of despair after the king failed to appear at the debut of his latest masterpiece.
The wound became gangrenous, but when physicians advised that the foot must be amputated, St. Jean-Baptiste refused, saying that if he could never dance again, then he would prefer to be dead.
Yes, his life was like some nightmare, parallel-universe version of the Hadrian and Antinous story, set against the backdrop of men in silk brocade costumes and in four-inch heels and wearing ornate wigs. It is a story of a man's unconditional love and self-sacrifice for his Sun King.
St. Jean-Baptiste de Lully had a deep fondness for the Roman Gods, and he portrayed them with the gay flourish of the the court of the Sun King. It remains a style all its own, completely out of fashion...even among classical music weirdos.
We adore St. Lully's music...we adore the grace and profound emotions that pour from his chords. We love the beauty of his style of dance.
No doubt when Monsieur St. de Lully arrived at the Divine court of Hadrian the God, he immediately set about rearranging the Imperial Orchestra, replacing the Ney Flutes with Bassoons and Oboes, dismissing the Cythara in favor of Violas de Gamba.
Perhaps the old Greek musicians might have taken insult at being swept aside, but with a wave of his hand...Antinous calmed them.
So it was that the celestial Imperial Orchestra performed the new opera Of Saint Jean-Baptiste de Lully. The Imperial Court was astonished to hear the new sound. Even the Greeks were amazed (and the Greeks had heard everything). And With a wreathed nod of his illuminated head, Hadrian enthroned commanded his beloved Antinous to dance.
When we join the court of Hadrian in the heavens, we will see Antinous dance to the new music of Saint Jean-Baptiste de Lully.