On Redefinitions of 'Rescue opera'

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


The ubiquitous term 'rescue opera' (given to a later-eighteenth-century type of French opera plot) fails to pass muster on at least two counts: (1) no two published definitions include all relevant works, and (2) the phrase ignores different types of moral purpose involved in such operas, not to mention other moral actions involved, and moreover ignores eighteenth-century perceptions of such types of theatre. The essay therefore samples and tests six different published definitions, and scrutinises eighteen relevant operas between 1769 ('Le Déserteur', text by Sedaine, music by Monsigny) and 1801 (Léhéman, ou Le tour de Neustadt', text by Marsollier, music by Dalayrac). The results produce a three-part discrimination: Type 1, 'tyrant operas'; Type 2, 'exemplary action' operas; Type 3, 'judgment operas'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic and the French Revolution
EditorsMalcolm Boyd
Place of Publication1992
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)0521402875
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • France, opera, Revolution, 'rescue opera', politics

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