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Association Française pour le Rayonnement du Théâtre du Château de Drottningholm

Les Artistes français et le Théâtre du Château de Drottningholm Gallodier Desprez Monvel Papillon de la Ferté Creutz Dezède Philidor
Dezède study grant 10/2006

Opéra-comique in Paris at the end of the XVIIIth Century

Monvel & the opéra-comique

Rémy-Michel Trotier

The two carriers in France of Jacques-Marie Boutet de Monvel (1745-1812) - before he left to Sweden in 1781 and after he came back in 1788 - seem to coincide with a strong evolution of the taste propitious to the development of new performance forms. Monvel's later works have mainly been composed with the musician Nicolas Dalayrac (1753-1809) for the Théâtre Italien, and belong to the hardly known - and rarely performed - genre of Opéra-Comique. Were the first dramas, written starting in 1772 as Monvel is sociétaire at Comédie-Française, more connected to spoken theatre? Already a composer, the mysterious Dezède (? - 1792), was involved in these first realisations definitely belonging to musical genres. Even in Monvel's plays, the presence of musical numbers - ariettes, vaudevilles, etc. - tends to abolish the frontier between spoken theatre and music and to question the reciprocal influence of different theatrical genres.

Who was Dezède ?

The name of Nicolas [Alexandre?] Dezède (b. 1740-45?, d. Paris, 1792), given to this study grant, is as mysterious as the composer's origins themselves. He thought to be born in Turin or maybe Lyons, until being told to be the illegitimate son of a German prince. He only know his name contained the letters "D" and "Z" and so did he sign his scores : D.Z., Dezèdes, Desaides or De Zaides. After a strong musical training, he began his career in 1772 with the actor Jacques-Marie Boutet de Monvel. In 1783, they produced together Blaise et Babet ; this pastorale, representative of the musician's style, became his most famous work and was performed in his lifetime as far as in Russia and in the United States. Unfortunately, Dezède's music was not anymore in fashion in the XIXth century and today only a few songs from him are well known. Among those, two of them - Lison dormait dans un boccage and the most famous Ah! vous dirais-je Maman - were used for variations by Mozart, who might have personally known Dezède.