Music in the Court of Marie-Antoinette


In this presentation at Wellesley College, I introduced one of the staged vocal works that was performed at Versailles in the summer of 1780 at the request of Marie-Antoinette: Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Le Devin du village (1752). We investigated how this opera played a central role in Rousseau’s proposed French operatic reforms, including a move toward increased simplicity, accessible vocal parts, and the natural declamatory style of Italian models. Rousseau’s innovations challenged the French operatic tradition of his predecessor Jean-Baptiste Lully, and his ideas, which were codified in the Dictionnaire de musique (1767), had repercussions not only in France but throughout Europe in the late eighteenth century.


Guest lecture, The Age of Marie-Antoinette
Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA; February 2006

Music in the Court of Marie-Antoinette


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