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STAGING AND ITS DRAMATIC EFFECT IN FRENCH BAROQUE OPERA: EVIDENCE FROM PROMPT NOTES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2004

Abstract

The staging of tragédies en musique and related genres remains an elusive aspect of French baroque opera. Although scores and librettos supply some information (through scene rubrics and the sung text), several rare sets of prompt notes provide us with many more specific details. The prompt notes fall into two categories: those that illustrate a dramatic convention and those that illustrate individual artistic choices. Both make notable differences in dramatic effect. Choristers and dancers are almost exclusively blocked as a single, collective body while the entrance of soloists to instrumental music often determines the dramatic function of préludes and ritournelles, sometimes accompanying mute acting or conveying meaning when the stage is empty. The prompt notes show that the genre, generally thought of as tradition-bound, also elicited dramatic interpretations from those responsible for staging. An appendix provides a glossed list of the more than fifty prompt notes for a 1778 proposed production of Lully’s Armide.

Type
Articles
Copyright
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

I would like to thank Lois Rosow and Rebecca Harris-Warrick, who discussed various aspects of this article with me. My particular thanks go to Victoria Hayne for her close reading of this manuscript and the insightful suggestions that followed.