Opera in the Age of Rousseau: Music, Confrontation, Realism

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This study contributes to the history of theatre, opera, music and criticism in the mid-eighteenth century, focusing on the Paris Opéra between 1739 and 1774. It is an integral history organised in four parts and fourteen chapters with 80 music examples and 16 illustrations. Part I investigates the Opéra and the court theatres up to 1752 with emphasis on those pastoral operas leading up to Rousseau's 'Le Devin du village', itself the focus of chapter 5. Part II, entitled 'Opinion', investigates the expansion of types of writing and polemic both before and after the 'Querelle des Bouffons', which is thereby contextualised in detail and in relation to the burgeoning of journal publication. Part III offers an in-depth account of the confrontation between French audiences and Italian opera caused by the 18-month residence of the Bambini company, 1752-54. The last part suggests how French opera developed a new three-act conception of opera that would supersede the traditional five-act model; this and many other features, including a basic shift from court-based to urban-based mythologies, prepared for the 'age of Gluck' and the wider international influence of Parisian opera.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages413
ISBN (Print)978-0-521-88760-1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2012


  • Opera, France, 18th century, Rousseau, Rameau, Gluck, opéra-comique

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