Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime, 1647-1785

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Cambridge University Press, 2002 - Music - 411 pages
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This is the first study to recognize the broad impact of opera in early-modern French culture. Downing A. Thomas considers the use of operatic spectacle and music by Louis XIV as a vehicle for absolutism; the resistance of music to aesthetic and political agendas of the time; and the long-term development of opera in the eighteenth-century humanist culture. He argues that French opera moved away from the politics of the absolute monarchy in which it originated to address Englightenment concerns with sensibility and feeling. The book combines close readings of significant seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century operatic works, circumstantial writings and theoretical works on theater and opera, together with a measure of reception history. Thomas examines key works by Lully, Rameau, and Charpentier, among others, and extends his reach from the late seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth.
 

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Contents

List of illustrations i
1
Song as performance and the emergence of French opera
17
The Opera King
53
The ascendance of music and the disintegration of the hero
100
Medees excessive voice
129
Hippolyte et Aricie and the reinvention
154
Heart strings
179
Music sympathy and identification at the OperaComique 1
201
Architectural visions of lyric theater and spectatorship 1
265
Lacepedes Poetique de la musique
293
Conclusions
321
Works cited
383
Index
405
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About the author (2002)

Downing A. Thomas is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of French and Italian at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Music and the Origins of Language: Theories from the French Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 1995), and co-editor of Empire and Occupation in France and the Francophone Worlds, a special issue of Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature (1999). He has also published numerous articles.

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