Solo singing at the Comédie-Italienne, 1716 to c.1752

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


There are many possible ways of studying popular forms of comedy in France which include music, especially in the first half of the eighteenth century. The theme of competition between the Comédie-Italienne and the Théâtres de la Foire has been on the research agenda for some time. However, the aspect of solo singing has been neglected, partly because the sources pertaining to the music itself are not obvious in themselves, or very accessible. Moreover, secondary sources often overlook the presence of singing within an actor’s career. The present essay is in two parts. The first part introduces the evidence for competition between popular theatres on the level of solo actor-singers. The second is a systematic survey of Comédie-Italienne singers themselves, together with notes on some of the music that they performed. We find, among a number of discoveries (presented here on a provisional basis, owing to constraints of space), that the playwright Louis de Boissy created various roles incorporating substantial solo performance requirements, with music composed by Jean-Joseph Mouret and by Adolphe Blaise. Moreover in 1729 and in 1753, solo singers were moved to change their style and technique under the impact of the Italian intermezzi that were brought to Paris at those times, and which were subsequently parodied at the Comédie-Italienne.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLa Comédie-Italienne de Paris, 1716-1780
EditorsAndrea Fabiano, Emanuele De Luca
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherPresses de l'Université Paris-Sorbonne
ISBN (Electronic)to come
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018

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