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Les Métamorphoses de l'opéra français Cahusac Rameau Le Vau Bonnart Remond de Saint Marc Vigarani
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Rameau and its lyrical theatre

Rameau en ordre libre : mises et remises de l'oeuvre

Rémy-Michel Trotier

On Thursday, 1st October, 1733, the Opéra de Paris presented at Théâtre du Palais-Royal Jean-Philippe Rameau’s first “tragédie en musique”, Hippolyte et Aricie. Having a work produced by the Académie Royale de Musique was for a composer a seal of quality. From now on collaboration was established between this institution, which had the privilege of setting up opera in the capital city of France, and Rameau, who was making his débuts – a relationship which was to continue right up to the death of the composer in 1764. With a libretto by Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, decidedly seventeenth century in character, Rameau was able, on becoming established at the Académie Royale de Musique,  to show  the respect awaited when confronted by the operatic art – passed down from the century of Louis XIV – but his future works were also to transgress the boundaries of tradition. Of all the varied musical genres, there is not a single one that the composer did not later try out. Apart from his four tragédies lyriques, his works consist of eight opéras ballets – among them five ballets héroïques and a ballet bouffon, lyrical comedy with ballet – and three freestanding actes de ballets, six opéras-comiques, collaboration in five fragments, three pastorales, two of which are pastorales héroïques, two comédies-ballets, an intermède en musique, an“opéra pour la paix” (“opera for peace”), a divertissement and a royal feste... Thanks to his experience of all these forms, Rameau was able better than anyone else to safeguard his original ideas in the face of the production conditions offered. This constant adaptation of inspiration to circumstances gave Rameau the chance to exploit a continuous process prevalent in his time, that of restaging – something which, in the eighteenth century, never meant revivals identical with the original musical work, but must be seen as a wholly individual form of innovation. Bearing this in mind, we can analyse the operas and throw light on Rameau’s practice – which at first sight may seem random, but was actually established on certain basic principles. [...]


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Rameau en ordre libre : mise et remises de l'oeuvre
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