To mark 300 years since the death of Regent, philanthropist and composer Philippe II Duke of Orléans, the CMBV, in conjunction with Lyon 2 university, is holding a cross-discipline Symposium on court opera in France.
Knowledge about French opera has considerably improved over the last few decades, thanks to numerous research projects which have since become reference works. However, researchers have tended to focus on the Académie Royale de Musique, an institution central to the creation and shaping of the genre. This symposium offers a greater understanding of French opera repertoire by studying 17th and 18th century court opera in a broader sense – not only works promoted by the King, but also those initiated by great aristocratic philanthropists like the Duchess of Maine or Philippe II Duke of Orléans. This will involve, notably, an exploration of three aspects of the repertoire, namely personal preferences, the role of venues and theatrical practices. How would a philanthropist’s personal preferences influence the repertoire and its production (i.e. choice of author, cast, theatre crew and subject), and distinguish it from commercial operas? How did the repertoire fit with the venues in the absence of dedicated opera houses (salons, gardens, etc.)? And conversely, how would a venue affect the choice and treatment of the subject matter? Such questions naturally raise the issue of theatrical practices under different conditions from in town, not just as regards the venue but also as regards staffing, the choice of musicians and the management of material resources.