The Académie royale de musique de Paris, one of the most emblematic institutions of the Baroque period, is closely tied to the birth and development of the opera in France. This project takes several forms and touches particularly on the study of the following elements: musical and scenic practices, the institution’s artistic and administrative functioning, connections in the provinces and abroad, and relationships with those in power.
From libretto to stage : archive data banks
This data base uses opera librettos as a reference to shed light on French operatic practices in the 17th and 18th centuries, with a view to performance revivals. The systematic approach used by Ballard in his Recueil général des opéras (16 volumes published between 1703 and 1745) provides very useful research material. It contains 132 librettos of works performed at the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris, from Pomone by Perrin & Cambert in 1671 to Castor et Pollux by Bernard & Rameau in 1737.
The data base may be used by opera students and researchers as well as stage directors, choreographers, stage designers and performers involved in reviving baroque stage productions.
The Royal Academy of Music: The making of the opera and show business in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France
(B. Dratwicki, J. Dubruque, T. Leconte, B. Nestola)
The development of opera in France is intrinsically linked to the history of the Académie royale de musique de Paris; the genre and the institution were born and evolved in parallel, feeding off each other. French opera has prompted a good deal of research, mainly of the theoretical, literary, and musical orders. There has been a progressive opening of a rich field of research centered around the consideration of the scenic environment (setting, machinery, costumes, lighting) and performance matters (declamation, gestures, dance).
However, the institution itself is still not studied in detail. Noteworthy avenues to be explored include: its administration, its economic model, the way it managed careers and talent, its staff (artists, artisans, voice teachers, dance teachers, other employees), its suppliers, the rhythm of its daily schedule, the interaction among its different professions, its evolution over time, and the dissemination of its repertoire and image. All these aspects are crucial if we are to understand the nature of the institution itself and its repertoire. This particular functioning places the work at the intersection of many practical considerations, the study of which will allow us to reevaluate the act of creation and the very notion of what a work is. The CMBV hopes to showcase such a study in a collective interdisciplinary publication, preceded by a preparatory workshop (2020-2022).
The orchestra of the Paris Opera, from Lully to Rameau
The Paris Opera was the first major orchestra in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, and remained the most important one for a long time, attracting both praise and criticism. However, only general information exists about the number of musicians or sections at particular dates, or the division between petit chœur and grand chœur, etc. The musical sources in full score sadly tends to be lacking in details about orchestration. Our research project will tap into the existing orchestral materials housed in the Bibliothèque-musée de l’Opéra in an effort to reconstitute presumably conventional orchestral practices by the Académie Royale de Musique performed in the opera house at the Palais-Royal between 1673 and 1763, from Lully through Rameau, with a view to historically informed musical performance.