Opéra Comique: Identity and Manipulation

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


The centre point of this investigation of 'shifting sands' (that is, the perception of opéra-comique as a genre in the Romantic years) is Berlioz's 1836 article 'De l'Opéra Comique', issued in the 'Revue et gazette musical de Paris' on 18 September. Berlioz's text was a critical assessment of both genre and institution, including its regular public, and involved the interesting phrase 'le genre national', which had found an informal place in discourses of the time, but has not seemingly been subject to scrutiny itself. The story is taken back to 1801, when a new Opéra Comique company was recreated by the government out of its former incarnation and the bankrupted Théâtre Feydeau. Fundamental questions were debated: what was the real value of the genre, if it was to be 'national', yet obviously catered for unchallenged middlebrow taste? How should it be developed? What was its proper identity?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading Critics Reading
Subtitle of host publicationOpera and Ballet Criticism in France from the Revolution to 1848
EditorsRoger Parker, Mary Ann Smart
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Print)0198166974
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Opéra comique, nineteenth century popular theatre, Berlioz, criticism, genre.

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