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Dance and Drama in French Baroque Opera
A History

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Opera

  • Date Published: August 2016
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316777596
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$ 27.00 USD ( )
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About the Authors
  • Since its inception, French opera has embraced dance, yet all too often operatic dancing is treated as mere decoration. Dance and Drama in French Baroque Opera exposes the multiple and meaningful roles that dance has played, starting from Jean-Baptiste Lully's first opera in 1672. It counters prevailing notions in operatic historiography that dance was parenthetical and presents compelling evidence that the divertissement - present in every act of every opera - is essential to understanding the work. The book considers the operas of Lully - his lighter works as well as his tragedies - and the 46-year period between the death of Lully and the arrival of Rameau, when influences from the commedia dell'arte and other theatres began to inflect French operatic practices. It explores the intersections of musical, textual, choreographic and staging practices at a complex institution - the Académie Royale de Musique - which upheld as a fundamental aesthetic principle the integration of dance into opera.

    • Proposes a new view of the role of dance in French opera of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries
    • Considers the operas of Lully and his successors from a variety of perspectives and demonstrates connections between theatrical practices at the lofty Paris Opera and the low-brow theaters in Paris
    • Readers will gain a richer understanding of Parisian theatrical life that integrates discussions of music, dance and theatrical structure in clear language
    • Provides resources that amplify the discussions in the text, including numerous illustrations, music examples and tables
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'An indispensable resource for those reconstructing this repertoire for the stage, Harris-Warrick’s book also offers much of interest to scholars in many subspecialties of early modern European history who are willing to do the work of connecting her impressive study to the world beyond the stage.' Chantal Frankenbach, Notes

    'Harris-Warrick, a leading scholar of the music of the French baroque, demonstrates an encyclopaedic command of the vast repertoire of the Académie Royale de Musique, drawing on the libretti and scores of well over 100 operas and related genres, including the opéra-ballet, the pastorale héroïque and the little-studied genre of ‘fragments’. … Dance and Drama in French Baroque Opera: A History constitutes a seminal contribution to the field of scholarship in French baroque opera and dance. More than a history, this is a handbook for scholars and performers alike in comprehending the complex thought and dynamic visions that informed seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French opera.' Natasha Roule, Cambridge Opera Journal

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    Customer reviews

    01st Apr 2017 by Catherineturocy

    RHWarrick has delivered what the early music and dance scene has needed for the past four decades! Finally, dance is given its place alongside the other arts as she deftly steers us through her indepth research on the meaning of dance in the context of opera and how dance is an equal player in performance and the development of French opera. In fact, dance defines French opera and it is the element which made French opera so appealing to the rest of Europe that each nation employed French dancing masters or at least pseudo French dancing masters! This book is a must-read for all practitioners involved in performance and for all scholars who are not familiar with intelligent analysis of dance history. As you can see, I cannot contain my enthusiasm!

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2016
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316777596
    • contains: 40 b/w illus. 56 music examples
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Lully:
    1. The dramaturgy of Lully's divertissements
    2. Constructing the divertissement
    3. Dance foundations
    4. Dance practices on stage
    5. Prologues
    6. The lighter side of Lully
    Part II. The Rival Muses in the Age of Campra:
    7. The muses take the stage
    8. Thalie, muse of comedy
    9. Thalie visits the fairs
    10. The contested comic
    11. Melpomène, muse of tragedy
    12. Melpomène adapts
    13. Terpsichore, muse of the dance
    14. In the traces of Terpsichore
    Appendix 1. Works performed at the Académie Royale de Musique, 1695–1732, in which the impact of the comédie italienne can be seen
    Appendix 2. A partial list of performances consisting of 'fragments', 1702–32
    Appendix 3. The choreographies danced at the Opéra contextualized.

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    Dance and Drama in French Baroque Opera

    Rebecca Harris-Warrick

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  • Author

    Rebecca Harris-Warrick, Cornell University, New York
    Rebecca Harris-Warrick is Professor of Music at Cornell University, New York. She has published widely on French Baroque music and dance, with excursions into nineteenth-century opera, and has prepared critical editions of ballets by Lully and of Donizetti's opera, La Favorite. Much of her scholarly work has been informed by her interests in performance; she has studied early dance and performed as a Baroque flutist. She serves on the editorial boards for the Les Oeuvres complètes de Jean-Baptiste Lully and the Journal of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

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