Dramatic Expression in Rameau's Tragédie en Musique: Between Tradition and Enlightenment

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 21, 2013 - Music - 327 pages
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Cynthia Verba's book explores the story of music's role in the French Enlightenment, focusing on dramatic expression in the musical tragedies of the composer-theorist Jean-Philippe Rameau. She reveals how his music achieves its highly moving effects through an interplay between rational design, especially tonal design, and the portrayal of feeling and how this results in a more nuanced portrayal of the heroine. Offering a new approach to understanding Rameau's role in the Enlightenment, Verba illuminates important aspects of the theory-practice relationship and shows how his music embraced Enlightenment values. At the heart of the study are three scene types that occur in all of Rameau's tragedies: confession of forbidden love, intense conflict and conflict resolution. In tracing changes in Rameau's treatment of these, Verba finds that while he maintained an allegiance to the traditional French operatic model, he constantly adapted it to accommodate his more enlightened views on musical expression.

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Rameau versus Rousseau on musical expression 12
In theory and
Rameaus first tragedy Hippolyte etAricie
Intense conflict 64
Conflict resolution 84
Comparative overview of Rameaus tragedies first
Castor etPollux premiere 1737 117
Les Boréades 157
Scenes of forbidden love confessed 181
Zoroastre 203
Scenes of forbidden love confessed 219
Scenes of intense conflict 234
Scenes of conflict resolution 281
Conclusion 314
Index 325

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About the author (2013)

Cynthia Verba is Director of Fellowships for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. She has published articles and reviews in the Cambridge Opera Journal, the Journal of the American Musicological Association, The Journal of Musicology and the Journal of Modern History. While her earlier book, Music and the French Enlightenment: Reconstruction of a Dialogue, 1750-1765, closely examines the arguments in Rameau-centered debates, her current research has shifted focus to Rameau's musical practice, particularly his concept of musical expression and how it manifests itself in his tragedies.

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