Académie Desprez - home

Contact us

en français på Svenska

Groupe de Soutien

Groupe de Recherche

This site reflects the Académie Desprez's works and their constant evolution

Association Française pour le Rayonnement du Théâtre du Château de Drottningholm

Musical studies Des Orages

2000 Naumann

Poetry, declamation & music

2002 Dubos

2002 Raparlier   

2001 Bacilly

Poésie, musique & mise au théâtre

2004 Muzio

Raparlier Study Grant: Third libretto: Guillard and Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride 07/2002

The Programme Poetry, Declamation & Music at the Classical Age aims to examine and describe correspondences, in works written for the stage in France in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, between the internal structure and meaning of a written text and its setting in music by composers. Many moments in this period of somehow one hundred and twenty years reveal the strong relation between the spoken declamation in theatre and the declamation notated in operas, the actors of the first one having inspired the composers of the second. This study focuses on a later example of this phenomenon with Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride: an article by Gilbert Blin already published in Drottningholms Slottsteater’s program book in 1990 will be published in an extended version, together with a word-for-word translation of the libretto. The linking of both may allow the description of a method for singers who nowadays study this repertoire.

Project: Third libretto: Guillard and Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride

Laureate: Gilbert Blin

In the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, the relations between Text and Music were very different from those we nowadays ponder over. At a time when the French language was theorised in many treatises (for pronunciation, and spoken declamation to be applied to sung declamation), the Tragédie en musique developed proposing a noble, ideal and lasting notation of the language's music. Assuming that the structure of the language determined then the structure of the music - and not the opposite - the four different pieces studied in the Programme (every time in search of the terms of this induction) are looked at, for each of them, from a different point of view.

The approach developed here is the one of the link with the practice of spoken theatre. Already in the XVIIth century, a composer like Lully went to listen to La Champmeslé, herself trained by Racine himself, declaiming the tragedies of this author to find inspiration for his compositions. One century later, Grimm wrote about a performance of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride in his Correspondance Littéraire: “I don’t know if this is singing, but perhaps it is much better. When I hear Iphigénie I forget I am at the Opéra; I think I am listening to a Greek tragedy to which Lekain and Mademoiselle Clairon have put music”.

It is this latest piece that has been chosen for this study. Gilbert Blin quoted Grimm in an article that he wrote for the performances of this opera in Drottningholms Slottsteater in 1990, in the musical direction of Arnold Östman. When, in 2001, the Académie Desprez experimented for Leiden University the reconstruction of scenes from tragedies by Voltaire, listening to Gluck’s music has been, by a remarkable reversal of the perspective, a great help in finding the tone, and the rhythm, of the declamation. The developed version of the article, to be published as a result of this study, should acknowledge this reinforcement of the link between of the two practices.

The idea of putting together this article and the word-for-word translation of the libretto that Gilbert Blin did for the production is a way to keep a memory of this both theoretical and practical approach. It is also - and mainly - the opportunity to point the necessity, for singers, to practice spoken declamation as prerequisite to singing, in this repertoire. Together, they form a method for the practice of tragic declamation.

Who was Raparlier ?

Raparlier has been writing two important treatises: Principes de la musique and Essai sur la Prononciation, l'Articulation et la Prosodie de la langue françoise (1772).