French Opera 1730–1830: Meaning and Media: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

French Opera 1730–1830: Meaning and Media

1st Edition

By David Charlton


392 pages

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Hardback: 9780860787822
pub: 2000-03-20

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The majority of these collected essays date from 1992 onwards, three of them having been specially expanded for this volume. Drawing on recent archival research and new musicological theory, they investigate distinctive qualities in French opera from early opéra comique to early grand opera. ’Media’ is interpreted in terms of both narrative systems and practical theatre resources. One group of essays identifies narrative systems in ’minuet-scenes’, in the diegetic romance, and in special uses of musical motives. Another group concerns the theory and æsthetics of opera, in which uses of metaphor help us interpret audience reception. A third group focuses on orchestral and staging practices, brought together in a new theory of the 'melodrama model’ linking various genres from the 1780s with the world of the 1820s. French opera’s relation with literature and politics is a continuing theme, explored in writings on prison scenes, Ossian, and public-private dramaturgy in grand opera. David Charlton has written widely on French music and opera topics for over 25 years. The selection of his articles presented here focuses on the period 1730-1830 when Paris was a hotbed of influential ideas in music and music theatre, with many of these ideas taken up by foreign composers. This volume assesses the French contribution to the development of Classical and Romantic styles and genres which has hitherto not received the attention it deserves.


'Ashgate should be commended for their commitment to scholarship of distinction…' Music and Letters '… a volume of which no-one involved in opera of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries should remain unaware.' Current Musicology

Table of Contents

Contents: The romance and its cognates: narrative, irony and vraisemblance in early opéra-comique; Continuing polarities: Opera theory and opéra-comique; Orchestra and chorus at the Comédie-Italienne (Opéra-Comique), 1755-1799; The overture to Philidor’s Le Bûcheron (1763); ’Envoicing’ the orchestra: Enlightenment metaphors in theory and practice; ’Minuet-scenes’ in early opéra-comique; Motive and motif: Méhul before 1791; Motif and recollection in four operas of Dalayrac; The French theatrical origins of Fidelio; Storms, sacrifices: the ’Melodrama Model’ in Opera; Ossian, Le Sueur and opera; The dramaturgy of ’Grand Opéra’: some origins; On the nature of ’Grand Opera’; ’A maître d’orchestre… conducts’: new and old evidence on French practice; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
MUSIC / General