The Dramaturgy of Grand Opera: Some Origins

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


Grand Opera in France, as developed by Scribe in particular, built on the consciousness of history typical of the age: Goethe's 'Egmont' and Schiller's 'Wilhelm Tell' had after all made use of music as well as history. Use of historical events, however, needed to be integrated with the narrative of individual characters whose lives were entwined with those events. Auber's first five-act opera of this type, 'La Muette de Portici' in 1828, deserves special attention for its structural and thematic processes. But it had predecessors in the dynamic aticulation of personal narratives within 'history': Farmian de Rozoy's 'Les Mariages samnites' (1776) composed by Grétry; Sedaine's 'Richard Coeur de lion' (1784) also by Grétry; Billardon de Sauvigny's 'Péronne sauvée' (1783) set by Dezède ; Guillard's 'Arvire et Evélina', music by Sacchini, completed by J. B. Rey (1788). Scribe's special solutions are reviewed in the last section of the article.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrasmissione e recezione delle forme di cultura musicale
Subtitle of host publicationAtti del XIV congresso della Società Internazionale di Musicologia
EditorsLorenzo Bianconi
Place of PublicationTurin
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • Opera, history, structure, France, eighteenth and nineteenth century, Scribe, Sedaine

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