Hearing Through the Eye in Eighteenth-Century French Opera

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


This essay draws together evidence for hitherto undiscussed theatre sequences in Paris that brought together, in opera, special scenic, lighting and musical conceptions. The theatres involved were the Opéra, the Comédie-Italienne and the Théâtre Feydeau. If the evidence is obviously fragmentary, the cyclic and institutional nature of Parisian practice acts as a mitigating factor in assessment. The composers discussed are Rameau, Mondonville, Grétry, Boieldieu and Méhul, represented in case studies between 1749 and 1800. The influence of Servandoni is included. In 'Naïs' and 'Titon et l'Aurore', theatre staging elements (with mime actors in the former example) already come to dominate certain narrative moments. Three scenes are compared from later opéra-comique, featuring elements that link fervent responses to landscape in the 18th century with pre-Romantic themes such as the poet-hero (Salomon Gessner), the mountains of Switzerland, pantheism and the consequences of love outside the bonds of legalised marriage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExchanges and Tensions in Art, Theatre and Opera, c.1750-1850
EditorsSarah Hibberd, Richard Wrigley
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventCorrespondences: Exchanges and Tensions between Art, Theatre and Opera in France, c.1750-1850 - The National Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Mar 201027 Mar 2010


ConferenceCorrespondences: Exchanges and Tensions between Art, Theatre and Opera in France, c.1750-1850
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Opera, scenery, landscape, poetry, sublime, pre-Romantic, Servandoni, Rameau, Mondonville, Grétry, Boieldieu, Méhul

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