Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226743257 Will Publish March 2021
E-book $55.00 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226743394 Will Publish March 2021

The Comedians of the King

"Opéra-Comique" and the Bourbon Monarchy on the Eve of Revolution

Julia Doe

The Comedians of the King

Julia Doe

296 pages | 4 color plates, 16 halftones, 28 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226743257 Will Publish March 2021
E-book $55.00 ISBN: 9780226743394 Will Publish March 2021
Opera in ancien régime France was an eminently political art, tied to the demands of court spectacle. This was true not only of tragic opera (tragédie lyrique) but also its comic counterpart, opéra comique, a theatrical form tracing its roots to the seasonal trade fairs of Paris. While historians have long privileged the genre’s popular origins, opéra comique was brought under the protection of the French crown in 1762, thus consolidating a new venue where “official” music was debated and defined.

In The Comedians of the King, Julia Doe traces the impact of Bourbon patronage on the development of opéra comique in the turbulent pre-revolutionary years. This book presents the history of an understudied genre and the institutional structures that supported it, determining how changes in royal sponsorship contributed to the rapid evolution of this lyric form. Drawing on both musical and archival evidence, Doe demonstrates how comic theater was exploited in, and worked against, the monarchy’s carefully cultivated public image—questions that became especially urgent after the ascension of the music-loving Marie Antoinette. The Comedians of the King examines the aesthetic and political tensions that arose when a genre with popular roots was folded into the Bourbon propaganda machine, and when actors trained at the Paris fairs became official representatives of the sovereign, or comédiens ordinaires du roi.
Editorial Principles
Institutional History
Dialogue Opera and the Cosmopolitan “Revolution”
The Politics of Genre

1. Opéra Comique and the Legacy of Colbert
Comic Theater and the Querelle des Bouffons
Theater and the Nation
La Nouvelle Troupe
New Rivalries

2. Character, Class, and Style in the Lyric Drame
Bienséance in Ancien Régime Opera
Opéra Comique and the Drame
Romance and Refinement 
Recitative for the Peuple
Lyric Drame at the Opéra

3. The Musical Revolutions of Marie Antoinette
The Musical Patronage of a Habsburg Queen
Tragédie Lyrique and Its Parodies//
Italian Opera at the French Court
Despotism and Privilège

4. The Decadence of the Pastoral
Pastoral Living at the Petit Trianon
“Private” Pastorals: The Troupe des Seigneurs
Ceremonial Pastorals for Court and Capital
The Pastoral as Adaptation: C. S. Favart’s Ninette à la cour

5. “Heroic” Comedy on the Eve of 1789
Opera and Revolution at the Salle Favart
The Development of “Heroic” Comedy
The “Heroic” Sargines
Continuity and Rupture

6. Epilogue: The Foundation of a “People’s” Art
Richard Coeur de Lion: The First Fifty Years
Richard Coeur de Lion: The First Hundred Years
Conclusions: Richard Coeur de Lion and the Revolutionary Centennial 
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