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Chapter 3 is devoted to music and innovation within the commedia troupe of Louis XIV. Mixing traditional improvisation with scripted French scenes, the plays involved many forms and styles of music, made possible in part by the ability of Italian actors to sing and play instruments. An overview, ‘Repertory and Musical Resources’, includes evidence for the international reputation earned by the Italians, much enhanced by the 1700 publication of their texts and music in Le Théâtre Italien de Gherardi. These plays, revived in following decades, were notorious for their veiled social critiques. In ‘Social Themes’ eight specific topic areas are set out, all with continuing relevance for popular opera. ‘Music and Musical Roles’ considers (i) a dialogue duet sung in an early commedia play; (ii) musical variety and function in one-act comedies; (iii) the incorporation of Italian music, some taken from Venetian opera. ‘Vaudevilles and Vaudeville-finales’ takes forward the discoveries of Donald J. Grout in ‘The Origins of the Opéra-comique’ (1939). In ‘Towards Pasquin et Marforio’, ambitious musical elements in larger-scale plays are described, including parodies of Lully opera scenes. The integral musical planning of Pasquin et Marforio is seen as containing uniquely operatic features.
Dante’s distinctive political theology lies behind two of the most startling surprises of his otherworldly vision, in relation to previous traditions both popular and learned about the afterlife. First, of the approximately 300 characters in Dante’s otherworld, 84 are pagans, and 51 of these are located in a region entirely of Dante’s own invention: the limbo of the virtuous pagans. Second is Dante depiction of contemporary popes, at least four of whom are allotted a place in hell.
This chapter addresses the political dimension of Dante’s ethical thought. Where scholars have tended to emphasise ‘the fundamental difference’ between the ethical–political theories expounded in the Monarchia and the Commedia, this chapter demonstrates their fundamental unity. No less than his Latin prose treatise in three books, Dante’s vernacular poem in three canticles was potent propaganda for the Imperial faction in Italy, and a controversial manifesto for the radical reform of the Roman Church.