Popular Opera in Eighteenth-Century France: Music and Entertainment before the Revolution

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In twelve chapters the field of opera with spoken dialogue in France is treated as a thematic narrative from the period of Molière to that of classicism. Popular opera is conceived as something both private and public, with the sources and practices of both areas of entertainment analysed. Topics covered include: the Gherardi company, up to its dissolution by Louis XIV in 1697; Fair theatre (the Opéra Comique) and the invention of the first opéra-comique, not least through the efforts of Alain-René Lesage and Jaques-Philippe d'Orneval; the phenomenon of vaudevilles and the practice of vaudeville singing as this was done on the stage; the crucial roles of Charles-Simon Favart in the 1740s and 1750s; the incipient formation of a popular canon; subject-matter (especially deriving from Jean de La Fontaine's Fables and Tales); comedy and social criticism; Italian music and its advance at the Comédie-Italienne; the role of Marie-Justine Duronceray ('Mme Favart') as performer, writer and facilitator; extraordinary creative syntheses in the 1750s on the part of composers, especially Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Egidio Duni; and the evolution of a new 'musico-dramatic art', quite distinct from any existing operatic style.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages368
ISBN (Electronic)9781009026734
ISBN (Print)9781316515846, 9781009011754 paperback
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Opera, France, Rousseau, Duni, Favart, Lesage, Fair theatre, opéra-comique

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