Review of John S. Powell. Music and Theatre in France, 1600-1680.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. xvil , 582 pp.
The seventeenth century in France, an era in which French dramatic arts
reached a pinnacle of development, has inspired tomes of writing, both in
French and in English, on the literature and theater of the period. But
despite the importance of music and dance in this time, and particularly
despite their prominence in the theater, there remain relatively few books
available to the English reader on the subject. Major English monographs
on the music are few and can be listed easily: James R. Anthony's comprehensive
French Barqoue Music (1978), Robert Isherwood's Music in the Service
of the King (1973), Louis Auld's The Lyric Art of Pierre Perrin (1986),
Norman Demuth's French Opera (1963), and Caroline Wood's Music and
Drama in the Tragedie en musique, 1673-1715 (1996). Scholars have recently
contributed to several significant collections of essays, and a growing number
of tools for research and critical editions have been published, but few
book-length works serve the English reader. John S. Powell's Music and
Theatre in France, 1600-1680, the most recent installment of Oxford's Monographs
on Music, presents a significant new contribution to this small bibliography.
Powell's impressive 582-page book, which addresses the musical
practices of comedy, tragicomedy, tragedy, and mythological and non-mythological
pastoral drama during the period, offers the first major work in
English to thoroughly investigate these rich and momentous topics, all of
which contributed significantly to the development of French opera.
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- November 15, 2014