Abstracts of issue 5-6 (1987)
The Beginnings of French Opera: The
“Tragédie Lyrique” as Dramatic Genre in Neoclassical France
The present essay is a historical and critical survey of the operatic and quasi-operatic precedents that led to the formation of a French dramatic musical idiom as well as of a Baroque aesthetic that culminated in the tragédie lyrique of Lully.
- Part I examines:
- the quantitative verses written a
l’antique and the revival of Greek
- Beaujoyeux’s Ballet comique de la Royne, and
Ballet de cour, as it developed in XVIIth-century France.
- Part II deals with the influence Italian dramatic presentations had on the development of French opera:
- of stage works by Rossi and Cavalli mounted in France;
“machine plays” and pastoral dramas, and
- of the transition from comedie-ballet to tragédie lyrique.
- Part III is an attempt to look at the music itself, i.e., the French vocal tradition of the Renaissance and the early Baroque period:
- at the Italian seconda prattica ideals and of their observance or rejection in France;
- at the dramatic possibilities in the French monody before Lully, and
- at the Franco-Italian synthesis, which Lully achieved in the lyric art of the Baroque.