Zaïs is an opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau first performed on 29 February 1748 at the Opéra in Paris. It takes the form of a pastorale héroïque in four acts and a prologue. The librettist was Louis de Cahusac.

The score is particularly remarkable for its overture, which depicts the emergence of the four elements out of chaos. It looks back to Jean-Féry Rebel's ballet Les élemens and forward to Haydn's overture for his oratorio The Creation.


According to the published libretto [1]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast
Zaïs, Genie of the air haute-contre Pierre Jélyotte
Zélidie soprano Marie Fel
Oromasès, King of the Genies basse-taille (bass-baritone) M Albert
Cindor, a sylph, confidant of Zaïs basse-taille François Le Page
Une sylphide soprano Mlle Rotisset de Romainville
Amour (Cupid) soprano Mlle Chefdeville
Un sylphe haute-contre François Poirier
La grande prêtresse de l'Amour (High Priestess of Cupid) soprano Mlle Rotisset de Romainville
Chorus: Génies des Éléments (Genies of the Elements), sylphes et sylphides de la Cour de Zaïs (male
and female sylphs of the court of Zaïs
), bergers et bergères (shepherds and shepherdesses),
chasseurs et chasseresses (hunters and huntresses)


Zaïs, a genie, disguises himself as a shepherd to win the love of a shepherdess, Zélide. After a series of ordeals in which Zaïs shows he is willing to give up his magic powers for his love, Oromases, the king of the genies, grants Zélide immortality so the couple can marry.




  • Girdlestone, Cuthbert, Jean-Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work, New York: Dover, 1969 (paperback edition)
  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Sadler, Graham (Ed.), The New Grove French Baroque Masters Grove/Macmillan, 1988
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