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Thread: 18th Century French Opera Comique

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    Default 18th Century French Opera Comique

    It appears that rare indeed are recordings of the great Opera Comique composers. Names that are familiar: Monsigny, Duni, Philidor, Dezede, Desormery, and Dalayrac for example seem impossible to find. Even recordings of highly regarded composers such as Rigel, who contributed to the repertoire, are in effect nonexistent. One reads their names and glowing reports of their finely crafted and exquisite works performed well into the 19th century, but mysteriously don't seem yet to merit much attention in spite of the enormous interest in reviving the works of lesser known composers of the period and care in correct performance practices and historical instruments. I have recently obtained keyboard arrangements of arriettes from many of the works, and am able to understand something of the style of these composers, but I still would love to have access to some obsure revival that someone has recorded. For a work such as Dezede's hit "Blaise et Babet" (well known to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) to be unavailable seems ludicrous. Does anyone know where to direct me to some source? Those of you who are interested in the French Baroque, rococo, and galant phases evolving into the high classic period in France are earnestly invited to communicate your knowledge to me and discuss the stylistic details of the music of this fascinating and extremely rich, and "revolutionary" place and time.

    Tonight I found "Tom Jones" (Philidor) on Classics Online and listened to it. Daniel Heartz "From Garrick to Gluck" says that in "Ernelinde" Philidor brought the French language and the new Italian style together most skillfully in the early years. I yearn to hear the works of all the composers you list and would add Gossec's contribution to opera comique, and have found only a handful: "Le Deserteur" and "L'amant Statue" and "Devin du Village" (the last two in the UT Austin Fine Arts Library) but nothing by Henri Joseph Rigel (I'm getting by with contemporary keyboard arrangements of a couple of airs from Rigel's "Rosanie" and overture to "Estelle et Nemorin" and overtures from Dezede, Chardiny, Floquet and others). I'm ready to hear the music in these pastorales and be enchanted. Somewhere, a private theater is mounting these inexplicably neglected jewels, and there must be recordings tucked away! (Fortunately, Gretry is pretty well reestablished). I wonder if the possibly lengthy spoken dialog is a handicap? Good luck in our "journey" back to those amazing times!
    Last edited by Krummhorn; Jan-29-2011 at 05:33.

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