Duni's 'Le Retour au village' and the Politics of Parma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


'Le Retour au village' is a work still listed by reference books as of doubtful authenticity, notwithstanding basic identifications by the late Kent M. Smith in his doctoral dissertation (Cornell, 1980). In fact it is a crucial authentic work by Egidio Duni written as part of his transformation from Italian opera seria composer to French opéra-comique composer. The present article is a wide-ranging exploration of the origins, operatic nature, musical language, performance circumstances and final publication of 'Le Retour au village'. It also profits from archival discoveries by Paolo Russo, the conference organiser, shared with the present author, concerning the premiere of the opera at Colorno, outside Parma, on 3 October 1756. Its libretto is a specially reduced revision for Colorno's French troupe of Favart's 'Ninette à la cour', as Kent Smith surmised. The publication of the score was carried out in Paris after Duni's transfer there, under the patronage of Louise-Elisabeth, Duchess of Parma (1727-59), eldest surviving child of Louis XV of France; it was, conjecturally, issued as part of her active political strategy for the betterment of Parma, by showing precisely Parma's role in the development of a new and successful composer (Duni) in a new and fashionable genre, opéra-comique.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationI due mondi di Duni.
Subtitle of host publicationIl teatro musicale di un compositore illuminista fra Italia e Francia
EditorsPaolo Russo
Place of PublicationLucca
PublisherLibreria Musicale Italiana
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9788870967807
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Duni, Parma, Paris, opera, Favart,

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