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Products for grant FEL-258019-18

The Comedians of the King: Opéra-Comique and the Bourbon Monarchy on the Eve of Revolution
Julia Doe, Columbia University

Grant details:

The Comedians of the King (Book)
Title: The Comedians of the King
Author: Julia Doe
Abstract: My book project, The Comedians of the King, investigates the impact of Bourbon patronage on the development of opéra-comique in final decades of the eighteenth century. In simplest terms, the book presents the history of an understudied musical genre and the institutional structures that supported it, determining how novel modes of royal sponsorship contributed to the rapid evolution of this lyric form at the Comédie Italienne. As composers grappled with the legitimized standing of the comic genre, they began to test and expand its limits, transforming it into a substantive alternative to the elite tragédie lyrique. More broadly, my work interrogates the political implications of this stylistic shift during a time of tremendous cultural change. I demonstrate how comic theater was exploited in (and worked against) the construction of the monarchy’s carefully cultivated public image. In the waning of the old regime, opéra-comique increasingly appropriated the rhetoric of courtly ceremony, but it did so uneasily, and in a manner that frequently contradicted the established expectations of its form and social message. In essence, The Comedians of the King examines the aesthetic, institutional, and political tensions that arose when a genre with popular roots was folded into the Bourbon propaganda machine—and when a collection of actors trained at the urban fairs of Paris became official representatives of the sovereign, or comédiens ordinaires du roi.
Year: 2020
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: No