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DIOSCURI: CASTOR ET POLLUX AND RAMEAU'S REVITALIZATION OF FRENCH OPERA BY AMELIA NORDIN A Thesis Submitted to the Division s of Social Sciences and Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degre e Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. T. J. H. McCarthy Sarasota, Florida April 2013
ii CONTENTS Table of Contents _______________ ____________________________ ii Table of Illustrations ___________ _____________________________ iii Abstract __________________________________________________ i v Introduction: Rameau, Aesthetics, and Intent _____________________ 1 Chapter 1: French and Italian Opera ____________________________ 8 Chapter 2: Tragedy and Aesthetic Theory ______________ __________ 30 Chapter 3: Absolutism and the Querelle des Bouffons ______________ 5 1 Conclusion _________________ __ _____________________________ 66 Bibliography _______________ _______________________________ 68
iii ILLUSTRATIONS Figur es 1a. Jean Baptiste Lully, Atys overture, mm. 1 2 18 1b. Jean Philippe Rameau, Castor overture, mm. 1 2 18 2a. Jean Baptise Lully, Atys overture, mm. 17 8 19 2b. Jean Philippe Rameau, Castor overture, mm. 19 23 19 3. Jean Philippe Rameau, Ca stor Overture mm. 42 50 20 4. Jean Philippe Rameau, Castor Ove rture mm. 50 2 20 5. Jean Philippe Rameau, Castor "Venus, que ta gloire," mm. 1 10 21
iv DIOSCURI: CASTOR ET POLLUX AND RAMEAU'S REVITALIZATION OF FRENCH OPERA Amelia Nordin New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Rameau's opera Castor et Pollux debuted in 1737 and was revised in 1754. During these two decades, Rameau also published theoretical treatises positing his theory of the fundamental bass and participated in literary debates over music and its cultural significance. In the 1730s, the debate was between the supporters of Rameau and those of Lully. It focused on Rameau's work w ith musical textual co ordination and his incorporation of Italianate devises and harmonies. In the 1750s, the debate was between the supporters of French tragdie lyrique and the bouffonists, who supported Italian opera buffa This was again a debate over French and Italian musical influence and developing music theory, but also had a cultural and political aspect though the bouffonists' anti absolutist associations and their attack on the culturally French tragdie lyrique.
v This thesis examines the role of Castor et Pollux in the debates of the 1730s and 50s. It shows that at both points Rameau was responsible for revitalizing tragdie lyrique The 1737 production created controversy that drew audiences interested in the debate between Lullistes and Ramis tes whereas the 1754 production solidified the place of tragdie lyrique with a successful run of over forty performances. Dr. T. J. H. McCarthy Division of Social Sciences
1 Introduction: Rameau, Aesthetics, and Intent Throughout the many controversies of his career, Jean Philippe Rameau (1683 1764) played an essential role in developing and maintaining French opera By the end of his life, Rameau was perceived by his contemp oraries as a raving theorist who had over reached his intellectual bounds a senile old man with rambling ideas as portrayed in Diderot's Le neveu de Rameau 1 At the same time, they acknowledged him as the greatest composer o f French opera o f the period. St arting fairly late in his life, Rameau became an influential theorist and composer, directly addressing the aesthetic and cultural forces affecting French opera in the eighteenth century. Through a series of written debates set against the backdrop of the French Enlightenment, Rameau sought to reform French opera by redefining the relationship of its music and text His contributed to a larger intellectual conversation and defended French opera with his musical works. During the 1730s and 1750s, whe n Rameau 's opera Castor et Pollux was produced, Rameau revitalized opera in the form of tragdie lyrique and maintained this French cultural music in the face of decline and opposition Castor et Pollux was one of five operas Rameau wrote in the genre of tragdie lyrique. These traditional tragic operas were part of an established style with many social and political connotations, including a deep connection with the absolutist mon archy of Louis XIV and Louis XV. Tragdie lyrique developed from seventeenth cen tury spoken tragedy and as such was focused on serious treatment of texts. 2 This new operatic style was defined in contradistinction to contemporary Italian opera and came to represent a 1 Walter E. Rex, "Music and Unity of Le Neveu de Rameau," Diderot Studies 29 (2003): 83 99. 2 Graham Sadler, "Tragdie en musique," in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera ed. Stanley Sadie (New York: G rove' s Dictionaries of Music, 1992 ), 4:779 82.
2 significant part of French culture and artistic expression Rameau worked with these same French Italian contrasts during the first half of his career and develop ed the genre with new ideas of how music worked with the text. The critical reception to his first tragdies lyriques was extreme and sharply divided between those who praised his work and those who instead favored the traditional music of Jean Baptiste Lully (1632 87) Though Rameau professed deep admiration of Lully and situated his music as a continuation of the older composer's style he emphasized the music al compon ents more strongly as part of the drama than Lully 's operas had. By employing richer harmonies and thicker orchestral textures he participated in the work of eighteenth century scholars to raise music to at least equal level with text. Over the course of his career, Rameau's music altered the relationship between text and music to further the dramatic tradition and in doing so e ffected reform. In the eighteenth century, calls for reform of tragdie lyrique and the Enlightenment discussion of aesthetics led to change in the perception of music composition and musical drama. Rameau focused his reform efforts on relations between music and text. He felt that music was at least as capable of conveying meaning in a work as the words it was there to support, and he believed that the key to emotional portrayal affective music intended to stir a response in the listener was in harmony. He saw this affective goal to be best ac hieved t hrough his own theoretical principles of the basse fo ndamentale and the corps sonore which derived a natural source of harmony from which musical systems could be derived 3 His main opponent was Jean Jacques Rousseau 3 Jea n Philippe Rameau, Treatise on Harmony trans. Philip Gossett ( New York: Dover Publications, 1971 ), 59 61.
3 (1712 78) who found the emotive qualities of music in melody. 4 Rousseau led the opposition in the second debate of Rameau 's career, the querelle des bouffons of the early 1750s to combat Rameau's theory and music and the political principles that it reinforced. Rameau reacted to this and other criticisms in his revisions, adapting many of his theoretical positions to suit a udience preference Having written Castor in 1737, Rameau significantly altered the text and musical setting in 1754. His revisions provide an excellent opportunity for examining the change in his musical style and thus his sustaining the genre of tragdie lyrique The 1730s and 1750s were key periods in the operatic tradition of eighteenth century France. The 1737 version of Castor was comparatively successful for a tragdie lyrique at the time garnering attention partly because of Rameau's controversial place as a reformer T he 1754 production achieved even great er critical and audience acclaim with over forty performances before 1755 and revivals continuing regularly until after the revolution 5 Unlike the 1730s when Rameau was still proving himself a s a composer in the French tradition of Lully by 1754 he was established enough that his successful production represented French opera in a great victory over the Italian comedies. By the 1750s the war of letters known as the querelle des bouffons pitted French tragdie lyrique against Italian comedic operas under aesthetic claims of melody versus harmony. 6 Rameau revitalized tragdie lyrique at these two key points in the eighteenth century. Castor et Pollux serves as an example to examine how Rameau eng aged with aesthetic 4 Peter Le Huray and James Day Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth C ent uries (Cambridge : C ambridge University Press, 1988), 85. 5 Graham Sadler, "Castor et Pollux," in Sadie, New Grove 1:761 2. 6 John Neubauer The Emancipation of Music from Language: Departure from Mimesis in Eighteenth Century Aesthetics ( New Haven: Yale U niversity Press, 1986 ), 95 6.
4 and social debate to maintain French opera in the face of declining popularity or heightened competition. Chapter 1 discusses the tension between French and Italian dramatic music as well as Rameau's stance in this conflict Antagonism towards Italian music was a common theme in French musical history; French opera had always used its Italian counterpart as a foil against which it defined itself Rameau's relationship to Italian music in the 1730s and the 1750s changed radically but esse ntially fits within this tradition. Elements in Castor et Pollux taken from each of these decade s mark Rameau's changing stance in relation to Italian opera. First, by using Italian elements during his reform efforts as part of his developments to musical textual relationships, he seem ed to place himself in opposition to the exi sting French operatic tradition In the 1750s the position was co mpletely reversed, and he stood as a representative of French operatic tradition against the bouffonist supporters of Italian comedy. Since t he history of French opera was rooted in this same pre existing struggle with Italian music, Rameau's apparent reversal can be seen instead as a shift in the usage of his work rather than a shift in his musical intentions due to the context of contemporary debates and a change in the requirements to preserve the genre of tragdie lyrique. This change came not only from the reform efforts by Rameau and French composers in general but also from the eighteenth century intellectual disc ussion of aesthetics, which changed the perception of music. The very principles of aesthetics, genre, and musical textual relations were being challenged in treatises on the science of harmony, taste, and the natural understanding of music's power With t he goal to express meaning and emotional affect, Rameau and the philosophes debated the m athem atical
5 and mimetic or natural and human origins of music's power. 7 Chapter 2 discusses Rameau's theoretical work in order to understand his approach to the broad aesthetic issues debated by Enlightenment thinkers. Rameau's theoretical works attempted to reduce harmony to an essential natural component from which all music, and more radically all art and science, could be derived. His claims were tied to contempora ry discussion s of musical signification which was particularly important to the operatic genre because of tragdie lyrique 's supposed roots in seventeenth century French and classical Greek tragedy. T hese discussions centered on issues such as the affecti ve qualities of music, whether melody or harmony was more useful in this regard and how music could be used to mimic, reinforce, or stand in place of text. Rameau expressed strong opinions on these in his theoretical works, but key principles of taste and accessibility to listeners determined how evident these theories were in his music. This shift in musical signification and the development of Rameau's status as the French operatic conservative came to a head in the querelle where opera took on greater social and political significance. The intellectuals who opposed tragdie lyrique were, in a large part, also those who opposed absolutist monarchy in the way it was then practi s ed. Chapter 3 addresses tragdie lyrique 's strong political ties to the monarc hy and, through those ties, how it served as a symbol by which an operatic work could take a side in a social and pol itical debate. The very musical textual debate in which Rameau actively participated would be taken up later in the century in the music of the revolution. 8 Beyond the not insignificant royal financial support, French tragic opera maintained the divine elements of gods and miracles that had been stripped from Italian opera ; these 7 Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music 80 9. 8 David Charlton, "Introduction: exploring the Revolution," in Music and the French Revolution ed. Malcolm Boyd (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 1 14.
6 were representative of the royal patron's power and propagandis tic through their reference to Rome Though many operas had shifted away from using mythology based on classical religion such as Rameau's own Persian based Zoroastre (1749) in order to refer less to monarchic structures, Rameau continued to use harmonic s tructure s that traditionally represented divine authority until the very end of his career. 9 The 1754 revision of Castor et Pollux appeared on the Parisian stage to great acclaim, effectively shutting down the bouffonist's arguments that tragdie lyrique n o longer held interest for audiences. It maintained the classical gods and miracles that received so much criticism in the religiously skeptical Paris and used harmony traditionally referential to absolute authority. Though many features of the opera did n ot directly support Louis XV, by the 1750s Rameau represented a strongly traditional French icon and maintained a genre that could very easily be perceived in support of traditional French politics. This thesis will discuss the struggle for meaning, music, and signification in eighteenth century Fr ench opera by examining the two versions of Castor et Pollux and will demonstrate how Rameau reinvigorated tragdie lyrique He revitalized the genre through his contributions to the theoretical developments and r eform efforts of the 1730s and 40s. In the face of declining popularity of tragdies lyriques the 1737 production of Castor drew enough audiences for a moderately successful run and was discussed in the debates between Rameau's supporters and the supporte rs of Lully. In the 1750s, Rameau again maintained the genre's popularity against the proponents of Italian opera in the querelle des b o uffon s The success of the 1754 production of Castor was an effective way to prove tragdie lyrique 's continued appeal t o French audiences. In these two decades, 9 Geoffrey Burg ess, "Enlightening Harmonies: Rameau's corps sonore and the Representation of the Divine in the tragdie en musique ," Journal of the American Musicological Society 65 (2012): 416.
7 Castor et Pollux serves as an example of Rameau's renewal of tragdie lyrique and his championing of French opera.
8 Chapter 1: French and Italian Opera From French opera's inven tion to the time of Rameau Italian opera frequently acted as an important catalyst for change in the French musical style. Composers and critics debated ho w and whether to distinguish a "national" operatic style, often while still being influenced by Italian elements. Du ring the spread o f opera outside of Italy, many countries either adopted Italian opera or, as in the case of France created an indigenous style in their own language. The balance between more or less Italian influenced music was at least nominally at the fore of many musical controversies something that is particularly clear in the literary debates of the eighteenth century. The use of Italian music in combination with or to the exclusion of French music often determined the cultural significance or popul ar success of a genre Rameau's career exemplified this: he acted both as a continuator of Jean Baptiste Lully's style of French opera and as an innovator. In this latter and sometimes controversial role, he developed Lully's style of simpler music al elabo ration on the text into a more complex musical texture, often through his incorporation of Italian mus ical style and elements of late baroque harmony and counterpoint. Castor et Pollux produced in 1737 and 1754, serves as an ideal example of his operatic development. Each of the two productions came at a critical point in French operatic history. Rameau went fr om the position of a supposedly radical innovator in the 1730s to that of a conservative defender in the 1750s. Though Rameau's actual use of Italia nate devices was largely unchanged, by the 1750s he had established a reputation as a composer of French opera by maintaining and reforming the traditional French genre of tragdie lyrique. In this form it was able to, at least for a time,
9 succeed popularl y in competition with Italian opera buffa An examination of Rameau's inclusion of and competition with Italian developments will illuminate the ways in which he contributed to the success of tragdie lyrique Considered within the framework of Italian con troversy, Castor et Pollux is thus indicative of two turbulent times in eighteenth century and Rameau's revitalization of a national form of French opera. In th e eighteenth century active literary discussion surrounded French musical production. French E nlightenment intellectuals known as the philosophes debated musical theory and practice in gazette s such as the Mercure de France in open letters, and in articles published in the academic project that was the Encyclop die This discussion was frequentl y turbulent, revolving around the development of the style of opera created by Jean Baptiste Lully in the form the French lyric tragedies. The writings of philosophes such as Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 78) and Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717 83) included mu sic as part of a broader scientific and political discussion Beyond simply the objective musical qualities the philosophe s discussions a ddress ed the worthiness of the genre, the science of harmony and aesthetics, and the absolutist ideals that were at t he root of the ope ra and its organization Rameau's participation in this dialogue was essential to his reform and revitalization of French opera. Rameau actively participated in two central debates during his operatic career, those of the 1730s and 50s. T he first, between the Lullistes and the Ramistes pitted Rameau's late baroque style against the simpler tragdies lyriques of Lully and renewed conflicts over Italian opera that had already existed in France In this debate, Rameau's thick musical texture s were set in opposition to what was considered traditional French music The querelle des bouffons in the 1750s reversed this tension, and Rameau
10 defended French opera against those who would promote the Italian style instead. In both of these occasions, Rameau's operas attracted audiences and revitalized tragdie lyrique Castor et Pollux which was influenced in its 1737 and 1754 versions by these debates demonstrate s both Rameau's influence on the genre's popularity and his transition to becoming the r epresentative of French opera. Establishment of "National" Style and Influence of Italian Opera Op era began in Italy in the early seventeenth century out of the incorporation of music in to drama. It developed in part from the discussions of the late sixte enth century Florentine school of Count Giovanni de' Bardi and the academy known as the Camerata 1 The first operas, including Jacopo Peri's Dafne (1598) and Euridice (1600), were reactions to this Italian literary debate on dramatic music's ancient Greek origins and the nature of its emotional impact. 2 These Italian operas soon spread, and other countries either adopted the Italian style or created their own. French opera developed over the course of the seventeenth century, unique in its creation through concerted governmental effort in the form of a royal academy. The French style was distinctly different from Italian opera, particularly in its incorporation of airs the style of its declamatory recitative, and the inclusion of extended sections of ballet du cour ; nevertheless, early Italian opera was integral to its growth 3 Italian opera first came to France in 1645 during Louis XIV's minority, brought by Cardinal Mazarin (1602 61) Louis' Italian born Prime Minister. It was, however, 1 Howard Mayer Brown, "Opera," in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera ed. Sta nley Sadie ( New York: Grove s Dictionaries of Music, 1992 ), 3: 671 4. 2 Ibid. 3 Donald Jay Grout and Hermine Weigel Williams, A Short History of Opera (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 134 6.
11 fairly unsuccessful Alt hough Mazarin imported musicians and stage designers from Italy to perform in a series of about seven operas, his French audiences preferred the ballets that were performed between acts, such as those written by Lully. Italian comedy found a place in France, but on Mazarin's death, the importation of Italian opera ended. 4 Many of the spectacular elements, such as the stage machines, delighted French audiences, but musically and emotionally, Italian opera was overly passionate and too fantastic in compa rison to the theater of Corneille and Racine. Nevertheless, the incorporation of French elements, such as the ballet du cour between acts in an attempt to increase the operas' success made them important predecessors to the French genre. 5 Despite this exp osure to Italian opera, French opera developed only with great difficulty. This was due partly to belief that the French language was not suited to the form. Pierre Perrin (1602 76) was the first to be charged with the goal of creating French opera, and hi s early attempts, like the opera La Pastorale d' Issy failed fo r the lack of dramatic action and for the French language recitative, which has been described by a modern scholar as weak, labored, and without expressive impact. 6 Perhaps more importantly, ma ny believed that French opera was not desired after Mazarin's failed attempts to introduce its Italian counterpart. This, more than the suggestion by Perrin's lawyers that Lully had "always claimed that opera was something particular to Italy and impossibl e to execute in our language," is likely the reason for Lully's declining the initial offer to head the royal academy of opera in 1669. 7 4 Rebecca Harris Warrick, "Paris," in Sadie, New Grov e 3: 856. 5 Claude V. Palisca, Baroque Music (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1968), 159 60. 6 Robert Donington, The Rise of Opera (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), 282. 7 Lois Rosow, "Lully," in Sadie, New Grove 3: 83.
12 French opera was officially created and governed through a national opera institution, the Acadmie d' Opra in Paris, s tructured under royal direction in 1669 This institution was founded on the basis of national pride to compete with Italy, despite the lack of such an academy in other countries. 8 The institutional support and economic subsidy would later provide the fina ncial backing to keep the genre afloat. Financial aid was vital to the continued composition of French tragic opera, which remained constant if varied into the eighteenth century in contrast to the troubles of other serious genres to stay economically viab le 9 Tragdie lyrique also called tragdie en musique was the style of French lyric tragedy introduced by Lully in 1673 with his opera Cadmus et Hermione Lully became a proponent of French opera, which he had originally opposed, when he took control o f the Acadmie d' Opra, which was then renamed the Acadmie Royale de Musique. Lully developed his operatic style out the existing arts of ballet and tragic theater. 10 He had previously worked mostly in ballet, the genre that he felt most interested French audiences from his own experiences of composing ballet music to go with Mazarin's Italian operas Besides ballet, his early compositions with French recitative during his collaborations with Moli re were a highly successful step in developing the declamato ry style he would employ in his operas. 11 After initially turning down the position, he fought for control of the Acadmie f rom Perrin and dominated French music for fifteen years. 12 8 James R. Anthony, French B aroque Music from Beaujoyeulx to Rameau (New York: Norton, 1981), 20 1. 9 Charles William Dill, "The Reception of Rameau' s Castor et Pollux in 1737 and 1754" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 1989), 10. 10 Grout, A Short History of Opera, 132 5. 11 Rosow, Lully 85. 12 Anthony, French Baroque Music 20 2.
13 These five act operas were mythologically based works of great drama set t o "conventional" music that is, moderate music not intended to revolutionize or startle with a focus on ballet and instrumental music. 13 Lully emphasized the dramatic aspects of his works, drawing a connection to the tragic tradition growing out of the seve nteenth century French theater of Corneille, Molire and Racine. Characters were serious, with nearly all of the operas lacking comic figures, and the plots were discursive but not focused on realism. Plot and text were as important as music in these works and received as much attention and criticism, a trait that distinguished French opera from its Italian counterpart. Tragdie lyrique was set apart from Italian opera by other elements: for example, the airs were imbedded continuously with the recitative r ather than distinctly separated like Italian arias and the recitatives were less ornamented than in the Italian virtuosic style and often declaimed rather than sung. 14 Showing the genre's early ties to ballet, dance and spectacle music called divertissement was interspersed within the operas in scenes that had little bearing on the plot. 15 The origins of tragdie lyrique set the stage for the debates of the eighteenth century, establishing French opera created intentionally to compete in the international are na in opposition to the early failed Italian operas. The Lullist e s and the Ramistes Lully's operas became the measuring stick by which later tragdies lyriques were judged. They remained very popular even after his death and possessed a devoted and 13 Grout, Short History 134 5. 14 Cynthia Verba What Recitatives Owe to the Airs: A Look at the Dialogue Sc ene, Act I Scene 2 of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie" Version with Airs, Cambridge Opera Journ al 11 (1999): 103 4. 15 Grout, Short History 134 5.
14 admir ing following. In the years following Lully 's death however, tragic operas other than his own decreased in popularity and received dwindling support of audience attendance Alt hough new compositions in the style of tragdie lyrique were always included in the seasons at the Acadmie, Lully's operas were kept ready and often replaced them when they stopped drawing crowds. This frequently happened after relatively few runs, such as the seven performances of Joseph Nicholas Pancrace Royer's Pyrrhus (1730) and the three performances of Louis de Lacoste's Biblis (1732). Despite moderate success, Castor et Pollux (1737) was also replac ed by Lully's Perse after twenty one performances. 16 Thus, a lthough t he persistence of Lully's operas stemmed from the belief that tragdie lyrique was the more worthy genre and the idealization of Lully as a symbol the financial advantage of cheap and popular opera ballets meant that light genres were more frequently represented in the theaters. 17 In 1733, Rameau began contribution s to the tradition of tragdie lyrique that would revitalize the genre, for better or worse. In many ways, he retained Lully's style: his plots still preserved the grand mytholo gical adventures, the spectacle based dance, and the chorus scenes of his pred ecessor. He was, however, a revolutionary theorist and addressed music differently than Lully, who focused more on drama than elaborations in music. Though his music wa s full of parallels to Lully's, he made many developments to the genre that ma de clear h is place in the Italian high baroque and pre classical style. 18 The baroque musical style originally came out of experimentation in Italy. By the mid to late seventeenth century, it had developed into an established style defined by rules and standardizatio n Dissonance became increasingly regulated and harmonic 16 Dill, The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 1 6. 17 Ibid. 18 Palisca, Baroque Music 168.
15 motion through chords came to dominate over harmony resolved through melodic voices in counterpoint. 19 After 1720 this style spread to France and in many ways determined Rameau's theoretical writings The period of the "high baroque" from the 1690s to the 1740s was dominated by fixed rules of expressivity, in which affections physical and emotional responses to music were guided by reason and intellectualism. 20 By adhering to many of the beliefs of the high baroque, Ramea u separated himself from Lully in harmonic complexity His particular goals lay with redefining textual and musical coordination. Aiming to match the poetry of the libretto to music that properly conveyed the scene's meaning, Rameau eng aged in the aesthetic conversation surrounding affections. He focused his attention on how harmony through basse fo ndamentale fundamental roots from which chordal motion could be derived and the corps sonore the vibrations of the bass and its upper partial s moved the vibrating bodies of the ear and affected emotions. His theoretical position followed a mathematical method from which he derived harmony and constructed a hierarchy of motion. 21 This complex harmonic motion of tension and resolution, full of dis sonance and modulation, was often term ed "confused" or bizarre by French audience s 22 Taking into consideration the firm establishment of Lully's music, this reaction to Italian baroque harmonies was not unusual and makes clear Rameau's reasons for maintain ing strict continuity with Lully despite his attempts at reform Parisians had a particularly strong customary culture, in which eve n un formalized rules were considered firm simply through their tradition. While their culture was not actually static, the 19 Palisca, Baroque Music 5 6. 20 Ibid. 21 John Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music from Language: Departure from M imesis in Eighteenth Century Aesthetics ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986 ), 76 84. 22 Palisca, Baroque Music 3.
16 c onception of something as "established" rather than as innovative was essential to its acceptance. Phras es denoting innovation such as baroq ue" had pejorative associations 23 Breaking established norms "was morally repugnant and provoked indignation." 24 For all that Rameau sought to invigorate a dying genre with "new" stylistic and harmonic dev ices, he was con s trained by the deeply engrained conventions of trag die lyrique In response to the declining preference for tragdies lyriques as early as the 1720s treatises addressing reform proli ferated in the 1730s and 40s Even those treatises directly in opposition to Rameau such as the satire thought to be by Franois Antoine Chevrier that critiqued the state of French opera, acknowledged the underlying cause s of operatic decline and efforts for reform of which Rameau was a part. 25 Lully had defined French opera in opposi tion to its Italian counterpart and Rameau's developments set about shifting this definition. Rameau's operas were drastically different in ha rmony, employing chordal movement from dissonance to resolution, which came from a theoretical outlook that was itself based upon Italian harmonic practice Rameau's first opera, Hyppolite et Aricie (1733), received derogatory critique for its complexity. It was the first musical work to receive the description "baroque," and Andr Campra (1660 1744) referred to it as having enough music for ten operas. 26 This was, in the eyes of many, an affront to the style and memory of Lully. 27 He was not unique in his ad option of the Italian high baroque but his successful employment of it, drawing revenue if only through his controversy, enlivened the stagnating genre. 23 David Garrioch, The Making of Revolutionary Paris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 40 1. 24 Ibid., 42. 25 Dill, The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 82 7. 26 Richard Taruskin, The Oxford History of Western Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 2: 110. 27 Ibid.
17 For this reason some people known as the Ramistes thought he was saving the genre while others the Lul list e s who disliked the sound of his harmonies and the position he was taking in relation to Italian and French music thought he was destroying it. 28 Castor et Pollux (1737) originally premiered during the height of the debate and illustrates some of the elements most objected to by the Lullist e s These debates centered on the definition of tragedy and the way Rameau's music might threaten the dramatically focused tradition established by Lully. 29 Charles Dill examined h is recitatives in particular as indic ative of reform efforts, shifting the dramatic effort by more selective use and focus on declamatory monologue scenes particularly in the 1754 version, these scenes also took a step towards bridging drama and divertissement with their orchestral accompanim ent 30 Here, the prologue serves as an example both of his continuity and his developments from Lully. A comparison between Rameau's 1737 production of Castor and Lully's Atys (1676) illuminates this sharp cont rast, keeping in mind the sixty one years betw een the two works. This comparison will focus of the prologues of the two, significantly because the prologue of Castor was removed excepting the overture in the 1754 revision. Castor 's prologue maintained many elements already firmly established by Lully, but in addition expanded on the Lullian style of opera composition, bringing in new features of orchestral and harmonic technique. Like Lully's operas, the prologue links the opera with politics through an analogy of current events. The exact political re ferences of Castor will be discussed further in Chapter 3 but for now what is important is Rameau's 28 Dill, The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 67. 29 Ibid., 32. 30 Ibid., 108 and 124 7.
18 adherence to French models while he expanded his music in complexity through baroque and Italian styles. The prologue of the 1737 Castor at nearly the l ength of a full act, was significantly longer than an Italian prologue, and i n this way it kept very closely with the French tradition established by Lully. French opera at this point in the eighteenth century continued with the seventeenth century fashion of an allegorical prologue featuring dances and glorifying the king. Castor 's prologue is a brief interaction of Venus and Mars, celebrating the recent end to the War of Polish Succession. Minerva aided Venus in the conquest of Mars, referring then to wis dom and love coming out ahead of war. It was an end of war story, opposite of the preparation for war story in Atys which was told through the coming of spring, and it glorifies the royal triumph. Castor 's prologue begins and ends with a French overture, which is the only part of the prologue of the 1737 version retained in the 1754 revision. This overture follows the standard French two part form; the first section is slower with dotted rhythms and the complementary second section is quicker and fugal. 31 Lully's overture in Atys contains a third part reminiscent of the first typical of the form, but otherwise the two are remarkably similar. Fig. 1 a Atys overture, mm. 1 2. Fig. 1 b Castor overture, mm. 1 2. 31 Stephen C. Fisher, "Fre nch Overture," in Sadie, New Grove 2: 300.
19 The overtures are both in G minor, typic al of Lully, and end their first section in a half cadence. They begin with a similar dotted pattern: a note, dotted, followed by a short and then long note of the same pitch and then a leap down of an octave. The rhythmic pattern is repeated, though only Castor maintains identical intervals in a method more reminiscent of the fugal use of eighteenth century counterpoint, entering with the same pattern in the dominant in a lower voice (Figure 1). 32 Fig. 2 a Atys overture, mm. 17 8. Fig. 2 b Castor ove rture, mm. 19 23. The beginnings of the two second sections are also similar: runs of eighth notes in triple meter followed by an octave leap and a step down (Figure 2). In both cases the entrance of the theme is fugal as dictated by the French form in L ully's case as establishment of the form and Rameau's as continuation with the first voice in the tonic, G minor, and the second voice entering at the dominant, D major. However, in comparison to Lully's, Rameau's fugal style demonstrates the developments of eighteenth century counterpoint through his frequent use of sequences. This is clearly seen in the two measure motif that is re peated, shifted down a step in a descending fifths sequence from m. 42 to m. 50, followed by a similar ascending step wise se quence of a 32 Kent Wheeler Kennan, Counterpoint: Based on Eighteenth Century Practice (Englewood Cliffs : Prentice Hall, Inc., 1987 ), 205.
20 repeating measure long motif from m. 50 to m. 52 (Figures 3 and 4). These sequences allow for richer harmonic progressions, leading the ear through repetition. In many ways Rameau followed the style of Lully even so far as melodic similarity bu t his counterpoint techniques and harmony demonstrate a shift towards complexity. Fig. 3 Castor Overture mm. 42 50 Fig. 4 Castor Ove rture mm. 50 2. Minerva's air, Implore, amour in scene one is another example of this accretion on Lully's dev ices 33 This air features the characteristic French dotted rhythms symbolizing pomp, which carries the political meaning of the prologue particularly well since the dotted rhythms are most notable on the word triomphe ." Quickly following this French examp le, however, is an ariette that is distinctly Italian. Contrasting in tone by 33 Cuthbert Morton Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work ( New York: Dover Publications, 1969 ), 199 200.
21 switching to C major for a light hearted, happy mood, the ariette demonstrates Italian virtuosity in its use of enthusiastic movement while the text holds little bearing to advan ce the drama. Both the violins and the voice employ runs to this effect (Figure 5). 34 Fig. 5 Castor "Venus, que ta gloire," mm. 1 10. Just a s Rameau employ s elsewhere, this use of Italian virtuosity is beyond wh at Lully would have employed. The planet ary ariette, Brillez astres nosveaux from Act V of Castor which has been labeled in modern scholarship as a "pleasing example of an unwanted genre." 35 This ariette is clearly delineated from the surrounding recitative, unlike those of the established Fren ch tradition; Rameau felt the need to label it an ariette, which he often neglected to do with those airs that would be more obvious to his listeners that is, the French ones. 36 The melodic line is heavily ornamented, and then repeats itself in the Italian da capo style, accented further in with coloratura. The ornate, virtuosic vocal line was allowed because it was not plot bearing and was sung by an unnamed character a planet. Lully's design for the recitative of French opera relied heavily on the declamat ory style of tragedies like those of Racine. This precluded Italian 34 Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 200. 35 Ibid., 228. 36 Cynthia Verba, Music and the French Enlightenment: Reconstruction of a Dialogue, 1750 1764 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 103 6.
22 virtuosic techniques and limited singers to small embellishments agrmens like shakes, slides and swells. The departure from this in the ariette was acceptable because of the unimportant s tatus of the character that sang it, but indicates a break from the restraint shown in Lully's typical vocal lines. The ariette is more Italian in style than Lully had used or to which he would even have been exposed. 37 Since its place in the plot was insig nificant, it was not a full departure but rather an elaboration on Lully's style. It was a very Italian piece to include but was incorporated into the broader French context to the extent that he retained it when the opera was produced again in 1754 when i t needed to be most French for its use against the pro Italian bouffonists In general form, the prologue of Castor follows the style developed by Lully in Atys The melodies and forms are similar, as seen in the overture, but Rameau 's music shows several differences, as would be suggested by the debate of the Lullist e s and the Ramistes These developments Italian in origin through theoretical and virtuosic elements were employed in Rameau's goals to reform. The central issue was that of music's relationsh ip to the text whether it embellished, provided entertainment, or simply overwhelmed the text Music was not supposed to overwhelm text. Corneille, while he had used music in his spoken tragedies, used it only when the noisy stage machines prohibited dialo gue from being heard. Lully had continued this in his use of only continuo accompaniment to accompany plot bearing recitative. Rameau instead developed complex orchestral accompaniment for his recitative, believing in music's power to be at least equal to the words in conveying plot and emotional movement. 38 37 Taruskin, Oxford History 108. 38 Geoffrey Burgess, "Enlightening Harmonies: Rameau's corps sonore and the Representation of the Divine in the tragdie en musique ," Journal of the American Musicological Society 65 (2012), 441.
23 Through his work during these early decades, Rameau engaged not in overturning the existing genre but rather participating within an ongoing reform movement The decline of tragdie lyrique with only t he rare successful new work was a matter of consternation to audiences, though the y did not correct it through their presence. 39 It was instead the scholars and composers who attempted to remedy this by addressing the dramatic and musical needs they saw in the genre. It was with this as a goal that Rameau and Voltaire had been working on a project the incomplete opera Samson prior to the original production of Castor. 40 Rameau's rol e as a reformer allowed him to practice his theoretical ideas in a more outrig ht and radical way, and th r ough this work, he maintained and strengthened tragdie lyrique in the 1730s and allowed it to remain a strong French cultural icon that would be able to hold its place in the next debate. Querelle des Bouffons In comparison to the Lullist controversy early in his career, Rameau became the conservative in the next debate, known as the querelle des bouffons which lasted from 1752 54. On the surface, this debate consisted of a series of writings and commentaries in support of or a gainst Italian comedic music. The political implications of this will be discussed in Chapter 3 ; here the focus is instead on the musical debates and, in particular, on the way these debates focused on national styles. Just a s Rameau had revitalized tragd ie lyrique in the 1730s, so too in the 1750s he championed the genre's popularity. His success was demonstrated in the popularity of Castor et Pollux (1754). 39 Dill, The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 301. 40 Ibid., 32.
24 While France had not taken up Italian opera seria Italian comedies had become increasingly popula r. As with French opera ballet, this type of comedic opera, known as opera buffa was more profitable than tragedy. The history of these comedic genres was long and defined by tension between French and Italian music. The Comdie Italienne which had taken root in popular entertainment despite Louis XIV's expulsion of Italian comedians in 1697, was granted subsidies in the early eighteenth century by the Duke of Orlans during Louis XV's regency. 41 While not considered as culturally important as tragdie lyr ique it maintained audience interest much longer. Rameau had brought popular tragdies lyriques to the stage of the Acadmie d' Opra in addition to Lully's canonical works, but the "breach of French resistance to the importation of Italian opera" in 1752 led to a new debate on the worth of composition and genres in French theaters. 42 Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona was the key example of popular Italian music in France. While it had premiered in Italy in the early 1730s, it took longer for t he opera to enter France La Serva Padrona was initially part of a larger work, but met much greater success independently. In 1746, it came to Paris and then continued to be revived over the proceeding decade, with its 1752 performance acting as the spark to begin the querelle It was, in a way, the revival of Castor in 1754 that "ousted" it from the Paris stage. 43 The querelle had ended that year, and the success of Rameau's tragedy confirmed the French victory. Jean Jacques Rousseau led the pro Italian si de of the debate, one of the many instances where he and Rameau proved to be rivals. His publication Lettre sur la musique franaise (1753) was an argumentative denunciation of French operatic practice. In 41 Harris Warrick, Paris 860. 42 Ibid., 861. 43 Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 220.
25 addition to flaws he saw in performance practice, Rousseau argued against the nature of French composition. He found that the melodies of Italian composers were predisposed to be more beautiful by nature of their language, while French composers were constrained by their more restricted declamatory style. 44 Even after the creation of French opera, detractors espoused that only the French could possibly enjoy the unique nature of French recitative. In response to Charles Burney (1726 1814) a n eighteenth century English critic, Georg Philip p Telemann (1681 1 767) provided anecdotal evidence for what he saw as a strong support of French opera: whereas he had met men of many nationalities who could sing memorized portions of Lully's works, he could think of no one, he claimed, who could say anything but that Ita lian music was beautiful and easily f orgotten 45 While Rousseau did not directly address Rameau or his theoretical writings, his representation of Italian music as su perior through melodic content wa s in competition with the key property of Rameau's theory which was that harmony rather than melody was the source of passion and movement. Rameau responded to this in his Observations sur notre instinict pour la musique (1754). Line by line, Rameau contradicts Rousseau's critique of the "faulty setting" of mel ody in a famous monologue from Lully's Armide Where Rousseau had found the mood of the words undermined by the melody because of its constraint to harmony, Rameau demonstrate d through analysis based on modulation that it was from the motion of the harmony that the mood of the monologue was achieved. Arguing against the mimesis of vocalization through contours of the line, he 44 Jean Jacques Rousseau, "Unity of Melody," Dictionnaire de musique (Geneva, 1767 and Paris, 1768) in Peter Le Huray and James Day, Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early N inete enth C enturies ( Cambridge: C ambridge University Press, 1988), 92. 45 Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 207.
26 demonstrated that the modulation of harmony, chromaticism, and changes of mode had subtly conveyed Lully's meaning. 46 Letters between Karl Heinrich Graun and Georg Philipp Telemann show the degree to which these issues of Italian melody versus Rameau's harmony were debated among composers outside France. Graun wrote to Telemann, critiquing the recitatives of Castor et Pollux and rewritin g them as Italian recitativo secco to demonstrate the melodic improvement. Telemann responded with a line by line analysis of Rameau, justifying the original harmony and critiquing Graun's version as being monotonous and "mournful and sour" in harmony. 47 In the discussion of Graun and Telemann, as in those between Rousseau and Rameau, the issue of unison of meaning between the libretto and the music is central. This comes from both the existing tradition of French tragedy and from the baroque concept of affe ct. Not only was tragedy through words and action supposed to convey a feeling in order to bring about moral reflection, but also in the baroque ideal, the music should be the source of emotion. The issue was then rather that Rousseau and the bouffonists f elt that the melody more effective in the Italian style should carry the emotion through conventions and imitative signifiers and Rameau felt it should be through harmony, derived from naturally occurring mathematical and physical relationships 48 Rameau' s music at this time, however, did not always reflect this professed goal of his writing. The revisions of Castor et Pollux provide a glimpse at this shift. In the 1737 original, his theories were represented clearly in the reunion scene between Castor 46 Thomas Street Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 5. 47 G irdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 207. 48 Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music 99 9.
27 and Telaire in Act V, Scene 2. In this scene, he uses a complex modulation and tonal instability to match the joy of the two characters tragic reunion and Telaire's slow realization that Castor will not remain with her. Castor sings in C minor, the key in whi ch the tonal instability will eventually resolve, while Telaire resists by pulling to the relative E flat major, at first unaware and then disbelieving that the joyful reunion is in reality a goodbye. His use of minor for Castor and the reality of the situ ation contrast sharply with Telaire's denial in major. 49 At this time, aestheticians from the turn of the century such as Johann Mattheson (1681 1764) and Johann David Heinichen (1683 1729) had agreed that modes could be used to convey any affect. 50 Neverthe less, the matching of minor major contrast to convey the divide between the characters' emotional states fits well within the affective tradition's employment of modal motion for music text coordination 51 Rameau's use of common modal associations (minor fo r tenderness or mournful songs and major for rejoicing or furies), at least at this early part of his career, was spelled out as such in his theoretical work: 52 that harmony rather than melodic devices could convey emotion correlated to Rameau's theoretical work initially set out in his Trait de l'harmonie in 1722. Despite the fact that his 1754 Observations only made a firmer case for Rameau's theories using Lully's modulatory use of harmony, t he reunion scene was r ewritten in the 1754 revival. Despite nea rly identical text, Rameau completely reset the music, simplified with much less challenging harmony. 53 49 Dill, The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 88 96. 50 Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music 55. 51 Eric Thomas Chafe, Analyzing Bach Cantatas (New York: Oxford University Pre ss, 2000), 82 4. 52 J ean Philippe Rameau, Treatise on Harmony trans. Philip Gossett ( New York: Dover Publications, 1971 ), 163 4. 53 Dill, The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 96 100.
28 In this way Castor still remains indicative of Rameau's relationship to the debates and his revitalization of tragdie lyrique While in his writings he continued to stand with his harmonic theory, which had been so important to his reform efforts, his music pulled closer to typical traditions of tragdie lyrique albeit tho se being criticized by Rousseau. Rather than challenging and reform oriented, his music drew on his established status as a French composer to secure success for the opera that symbolized the end of the querelle. In the end, tragdie lyrique did not fall out of favor in either the 1730s or the 1750s, instead remaining prominent at the Opra. Rameau used the revival of Castor with the huge success it achieved to prove the establishment of French opera and his position as a composer within that tradition Just as the end of the querelle was not a definitive end for Italian opera in France which would lead to the highly successful opera comique composers of the late 1750s Castor was not an uncontested symbol of victory: the opera still contained many Italian elements, such as the planetary air discussed above, and made concessions, as in th e reunion scene, against Rameau's harmonic theory. The Bouffonists critiqued the revival as unsatisfactory, still lacking enjoyable quality, as they had argued all French opera did. In the words of Jean Montucla (1725 99) a lawyer and mathematician from L yon then living in Paris, it was "neither the triumph of French music nor the grave of Italian." He remained unimpressed by the airs and the orchestration, and he commented that "the only tune is at the end of the third act, imitated from Mondonville, with an Italian accompaniment." 54 It was, however, a huge popular success and a clear way to draw audiences away from La Serva Padrona In the words of a more supportive writer, Jean Benjamin de Laborde (1734 94) "the man of genius 54 Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 230.
29 scorned the envious and resp onded to them only with new masterpieces, which finally forced them into silence. The revival of Castor et Pollux won every vote. There has never been a success to compare to it." 55 Rameau's complex relationship to Italian music is tied with his efforts to maintain French opera, first as a reformer and then as a traditional representation of the genre. He remained firmly within the French tragic tradition plots based in emotional conflict, use of ballet and orchestral music, divertissement s and generally sh ort airs. However, his changes to the genre focused on the developments of the Italian high baroque and developing pre classical style melody and motion driven by harmonic progression and slowing harmonic rhythm tied into his own theoretical claims The la rger conversations of music text relationships and the opposition of melody versus harmony to achieve affect were essential to Rameau's place in the debates that were at their peak at the time of each publication of Castor In 1737, in order to bring about reform needed for the genre, he challenged French tradition with harmonic textures that redefined the musical text relationship. Reversing this, his music became representative of French tradition, and Castor 's 1754 return to the stage reaffirmed tragdie lyrique though Italian comedy and comedic opera would not disappear and would in f act receive approval in the form of a royal subsidy in the following decade. 56 55 Jean Benjamin de Laborde, Essai sur la musique ancienne et moderne vol. 4 (Paris, 1780), 465. Translated in Charles Dill, "The Reception of Rameau's Castor et Pollux, in 1737 and 1754" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 1989), 1. 56 Harris Warrick, Paris 863.
30 Chapter 2: Tragedy and Aesthetic Theory From its founding to the critiques and reforms it has faced, French opera owed most of its history, social importance, and emphasis on text to tragedy. The very name tragdie lyrique addresses this essential link, but for all the appeals to Greek tragedy and choruses during opera's founding, there was never easy ac cord between the art forms. Style developments and literary discussion frequently revolved around this clash between words and music, drama, and content. The librettists, composers, and theorists whose writings contributed to tragdie lyrique and music in general built new aesthetic principles based on what they felt contributed to beauty and, for the legitimacy of tragedy, artistic unity. Rameau's theoretical work established a harmonic system that implied a natural, even scientific basis for aesthetics. I n his Trait de l'harmonie (1722), he set out his mathematical and practical applications of harmony. He continued writing theoretical works throughout his career, though most harkened back to the original Trait His Gnration harmonique, ou Trait de mu sique thorique et le clavvecin, ou pour l'orgue (1737) and Observations sur notre instinct pour la musique (1754) offer particular insight to the two productions of Castor et Pollux by pinpointing Rameau's theoretical developments in those years. Rameau's claims about fundamental principles that could be derived mathematically and philosophically and used to orient all of musical practice escalated throughout his career as he strove to prove increasing universality for his theory and achieve recognition fr om the scientific community. However, while his practice in his early career as is represented in the 1737 version of Castor et Pollux applied these theories to composition, his later works tended to be
31 more reserved. This is particularly visible in revisi ons, such as the 1754 revival of Castor where some of the more theoretically relevant scenes have been removed. This in verse relationship indicates not only of Rameau's participation in the developing theories on aesthetic and tragedy but also of his rela tionship to Paris audiences and maintenance of tragdie lyrique as a popular genre. Tragedy and Unity The tragedies of Corneille dominated the Parisian stage in the seventeenth century and, along with those of Racine and Molire, defined the genre and its standing as a force for moral edification. The goals of this type of tragedy focused on the emotional state of the audience and on inspiring terror and pity that could be used to warn or direct. 1 The seventeenth century saw as much debate over tragedy as the eighteenth century did over tragdie lyrique and set the president for many of the issues of the operatic conflict. By the eighteenth century, the mythical status of tragedy in French culture as a refined genre and national monument made it the necessa ry originator with which to compare tragic operas. 2 The necessity in the 1730s and 1750s to retain tragdie lyrique as a successful genre must be considered as part of the genre's relationship to tragedy and tragic opera's own claims to the status of Frenc h national symbol. When Lully set about writing the first tragdies lyriques he did so as a lyric continuation of this tragic theater. Like other forms of opera, it was meant to be a modern interpretation of Greek tragedy. Superficially, there were many s imilarities to Cornelian 1 Michael Hawcroft, "Tragedy: mid to late seventeenth century," in The Cambridge History of French Literature ed. Bill Burgwinkl e, Nicholas Hammond, and Emma Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) 2 62 4. 2 Ibid.
32 tragedy: the five act structure, noble characters, and conflict resolution in the form of conversation between confida nt e s, for example. In its romantic focus, however, it was also influenced by the seventeenth century French pasto rale and its employment of love plots. 3 In fact, one of the princip al tenets used by Corneille in defining tragedy and separating it from the tragicomic was that tragedy dealt with affairs of the state while matters of love were in the realm of comedy. Thu s while Racine's tragedies dealt with romance, such as Phdre's love for her step son, their emphasis was on duty rather than love as a source for pathos. 4 Rameau engaged with this tragic tradition in the 1730s. His first tragdie lyrique Hippolyte et Ari cie (1733), was based upon Racine's Phdre ; the natural comparison between the two allowed Rameau's librettist, Abb Simon Joseph Pelligrin (1663 1745), to describe the work in his introduction as true to the spirit of Racine but yet a necessary developmen t that acknowledged the operatic stage's possibilities for the fantastic. 5 The dramatic material of Castor et Pollux, Rameau's second tragdie lyrique offered more emotional conflict than the action filled Hippolyte et Aricie which only further immersed Rameau's operas in the affective and moral purpose of tragedy. Castor et Pollux demonstrates this conflict between tragic heroic elements and amorous ones. While as was common in opera, the root of the plot is love the brothers' love of Telaire, who was no t only the cause of Castor's death but also the one for love of whom Pollux seeks to 3 Lois Rosow, "Lully," in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera ed. Stanley Sadie (New York: Grove' s Dictionaries of Music, 1992 ), 2: 84. 4 Cuthbert Morton Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work (New York: Dover Publ ications, 1969), 199. 5 Downing A. Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Rgime, 1647 1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ), 158 60.
33 take Castor's place beyond this romance, is the Cornelian motivation of duty and conflict between the two brothers. 6 Tragedy was a moral genre, intended to teach some so rt of lesson to its audience. Those who opposed tragic opera believed that the addition of music weakened this lesson, turning the production entirely to spectacle. The addition of love based plots and motivations, they felt, corrupted the hero's lesson. 7 Opera's proponents, however, argued that music could be used to the opposite effect. By enhancing pleasure the music was able to agitate the passions, bringing the audience into the action: he or she would experience both emotionally and physically the fea rs, despair, and triumph of the hero and ultimately learn his lesson. The affective power of music was, as this suggests, a central topic of debate in determining the aesthetics at this time. In the eighteenth century, the belief that music caused a physic al stirring often discussed in medical terms was used to justify opera by offering a means by which it could convey the proper feeling towards a moral or intellectual situation. 8 The powerful effects that the music of the ancients had on its listeners were no exception to the preoccupation eighteenth century composers and theorists had with recreating this ancient music through opera. 9 However, the understanding of exactly how music affected its listeners, emotionally, physically and even medically, was a s ubject that changed drastically over the course of the eighteenth century. In many ways, the fascination with the idea tied to the Renaissance belief in cosmological harmony and the nearly magical properties of music, which could be used to heal a person f rom many 6 Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 199. 7 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 42 3. 8 Ibid., 32. 9 Ibid., 191.
34 illnesses. 10 Abb Pierre Bourdelot and Jacques Bonnet give an example of Lully's operas used by a doctor to cure a woman from madness brought on by an unfaithful lover. 11 Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the belief in music's pow er took varying forms, from a physical mimesis to a stirring of passions. In the context of opera's status with respect to tragedy and the need to create sympathetic emotions and identification, opera held an important position in the discussion of musical aesthetic. Whatever opera's political and social identity, its advocates claimed that it held a power to reconcile the individual with general humanity, thereby imparting moral standards. 12 As music's magical paradigm decreased in the seventeenth century, discussion instead took on analytical terms, turning to a representational system. Harmony was no longer part of a grand cosmological system, but instead merely represented it. 13 Rousseau believed that melody could imitate anything, "even those objects that are purely visible." 14 Through movement, music could stir up passions and excite "in the soul feelings similar to those that it experiences" when faced with an object or action of life. 15 Rousseau contributed to the systemization whereby a musical syntax or language could be created to convey emotional impact. His belief relied on reproducing the sound of a voice in passion through vocal melody, and felt that "harmony itself does not have 10 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 179. 11 Jacques Bourdelot and Pierre Bonnet, Histoire de la musique et de ses effets (1724), 74. Translated in Downing A. Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Rgime, 1647 1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ),188. 12 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 180 1. 13 Ibid., 183 14 Jean Jacques Rousseau, "Imitation," Dictionnaire de musique (Geneva, 1767 and Paris, 1768) in Peter Le Huray and James Day, Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early N inete enth C enturies ( Cambridge : C ambridge University Press, 1988), 87. 15 Ibid.
35 anything to do with musical imitation, since there can be no connectio n between chords and the objects that are to be depicted or the passions that are to be expressed." 16 Rousseau, however, disagreed with simplistic mimicry of the words. For example, he complained of expression in French music, where the association between words and music commonly linked slowing with pathos. "Whence comes it that the French believe that all that is slow is pathetic and all that is pathetic must be slow?" 17 Demonstrated most clearly in his earlier works, Rameau's compositions defy Rousseau's critique. This stems in part from his theoretical applications of harmony. Phoebe's scene at the beginning of Act V (1737) breaks the common connection between slow tempos with melancholic monologues. Its motion is quick, rhythmic. Instead, it captures the melancholic feeling following Rameau's harmonic basis of mood. It begins in the minor, following a pivot chord modulation to the relative major. 18 Following his ideas on the properties of mode and key, this movement from the minor "suitable for mournful so ngs" to the major "suitable for tempests, furies, and other similar subjects" allowed him, through the quality of the mode rather than the tempo, to exhibit the emotional turmoil of the character. 19 Music could be used not just to imitate but also to guide the audience through the passions: "just as an orator, using transitions, guides his listeners to ideas that did not seem contained in his first subject, so a composer, with the help of modulation, arouses in 16 Rousseau, Imitation 87. 17 Rousseau, Pathtique (1768) in Cuthbert Morton Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work (New York: Dover Publications, 1969), 222. 18 Girdlestone, Jean Phil ippe Rameau 222. 19 J ean Philippe Rameau, Treatise on Harmony trans. Philip Gossett ( New York: Dover Publications, 1971 ), 163 4.
36 our soul extremely varied passions." 20 Actions a nd emotions were imitated by affecting their movement of the soul. Through intervals, rhythms, modes and other musical means, the soul could be tempered in its passions, making music a moral accompaniment to tragedy. 21 This was part of a broad history of na tural music, where harmony dictated the mathematical workings of the universe. This concept of musica mundana the musical workings of the spheres, had existed since the medieval period, cited in Boethius in the sixth century. 22 The cosmological belief beca me less popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries due to a growing emphasis on empiricism. 23 These new mathematical approaches led away from the cosmic perspective, but some, such as Rameau, never fully abandoned the idea. 24 This received critique by Rousseau, who saw harmony instead as a human invention and of limited expressivity in comparison to the natural movement of the voice, and was central to the changing perspectives on music and affect. 25 On hearing the psalms sung to four part harmony I am always to begin with overwhelmed and ravished by the full and vigorous harmonybut hardly has the music continued for a minute than my attention begins to wanderthis does not happen when I listen to good modern musicthe difference springs from the cha racter of the two kinds of music, one being merely a succession of chords, the other an extended melody. 26 20 Denis Ballire de Laisemont, Thorie de la musique (Paris: Didot le jeune, 1764), 44, quoted in Downing A. Thomas, Aesthetic s of Opera in the Ancien Rgime, 1647 1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ), 184. 21 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 185. 22 John Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music from Language: Departure from Mimesis in Eighteenth Century Aesthetics ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986 ), 12 3. 23 Ibid., 18 9. 24 Ibid., 15. 25 Geoffrey Burgess, "Enlightening Harmonies: Rameau's corps sonore and the Representation of the Divine in the tragdie en musique ," Journal of the American Musicological Society 65 (2012): 3 91. 26 Jean Jacques Rousseau, "Unity of Melody," Dictionnaire de musique (Geneva, 1767 and Paris, 1768), in Peter Le Huray and James Day, Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early N inete enth C enturies ( Cambridge: C ambridge University Press, 1988), 9 2.
37 By moving the passions, music affected this harmony and acted in an emotionally complementary way with the text it accompanied. There were also thos e who believed the opposite in the debate over the relationship between text and music: they believed that it was detractive rather than synergistic to the affective aims of tragedy, and thus obstructed the goals of declamation. Jean Lonor Le Gallois de G rimarest discussed this in his 1707 publication, Trait du rcitatif 27 No matter how clear a singer's diction was in performing a recitative, it was inevitable that some words would be obscured. Even the attention of the audience could not be guaranteed, s ince listening too intently was considered unfashionable. 28 Music was instead a pleasant entertainment. 29 To be successful, the music needed to entertain, but it also needed to communicate the deeper plot in order to remain part of tragedy. As discussed in t he previous chapter, Rameau believed that through his theory he could link music and text on a more complex level. Music in this estimation should not be used only to elaborate melodically or mimic individual words or ideas of the text, but should rather s upport the dramatic action with physical response in his listeners through affective harmony. 30 Rameau proposed his harmony as one that was innate, a physical reaction that produced sensations even in untutored listeners. 31 "Suddenly there arose in me the su spicion that the harmonics, which I (and others like me) had always heard in fundamental sounds, might after all be the true cause of the predilection that I felt for 27 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 157. 28 James H. Johnson, Listening in Paris: A Cultural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 31. 29 Ibid., 10. 30 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 169. 31 Thomas Street Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 218.
38 certain sounds." 32 This was an inherent emotional response to harmony similar that observe d by Michel Paul Guy de Chabanon, in which he argued against Rousseau's aesthetic goals and instead claimed that emotional qualities of music were natural, not conventional or symbolic. 33 A distinction by La Mesnardire in the seventeenth century can be use d to explain the affective motivations of tragedy versus Rameau's musical goals. Whereas terreur defined in the Encyclopdie as poetic and intellectual response was used in tragedy for moral identification, Rameau's intended horrere which he listed as his goal in his Code de musique pratique (1760) was a physical response, described in medical terms as a kind of "trembling." 34 Considering Rameau's claims to scientific legitimacy, this is a very understandable distinction, and one that is unsurprising that he would choose to employ. This sort of physical response would support his theoretical approach where harmony, through the vibrations of the corps sonore could ultimately move emotions in an innate or natural way. Rameau's Theoretical Work As a composer a nd theoretician, Rameau maintained close, if sometimes tumultuous relationships with various philosophes He collaborated on the incomplete opera Samson with Voltaire only three years before Castor premiered in 1737, a reform effort which collapsed under d iffering philosophies. Beyond creative collaboration, he corresponded with scientists such as Louis Betrand Castle and later d'Alembert over the 32 Jean Philippe Ramea u, Mmoire o l' on expose les fondemens du Systme de musique thorique et pratique de M. Rameau ," ( Paris, 1749) fols. 121v 122r quoted in Thomas Street Christ ensen, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 218. 33 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera, 200. 34 Ibid., 166.
39 course of his career, though these relationships frequently resulted in conflict and estrangement. 35 He sought t o have his theories approved by scientific authorities in the Acadmie Royale des Sciences, both in 1737, when he received only a moderate response, and in 1750, when his work was highly praised and accorded the privilege of a tribute by d'Alembert in the Encyclopdie 36 However, for all that Rameau sought to incorporate scientific reasoning, his scattered and sometimes seemingly nave approach to others' methods frequently drew criticism. Even those who otherwise praised his theories including Jean Jacques Dortous de Mairan (who was at various points director of the Acadmie), d'Alembert, and at some points Rousseau criticized his epistemology, over reliance on mathematics, and metaphysics. 37 In his theory, he worked to establish harmonic principles on which the aesthetic ideals of the eighteenth century, namely affective unity between text and music, could be derived. While doing so, howe ver, he attempted to prove the natural affects of music scientifically, creating a harmonic system that reached mathemati cally and pressed too far beyond its limitations. This was done not just in his application of harmonic theory to areas beyond music, where it was unreliable, but also in the techniques he used to prove it. Nevertheless, Thomas Christensen claims that Rame au's scattered use of scientific methods was part of his immersion in the French Enlightenment rather than his separation from it. Rameau's theories simplified and rationalized harmony to the concept of the fundamental bass, taking harmonic theory from a s eries of contradictory or arbitrary rules to a concise theory. Christensen presents Rameau in much the same way that Rameau immodestly presented himself, as a revolutionary and the first to shift 35 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 10 11. 36 Ibid., 11. 37 Ibid., 14.
40 thinking away from the overly complicated methods of composi tion and thorough bass which was a numeric system dictating the movement of intervals above the bass. To this end, Christensen illuminates the theoretical ideas that he feels are deprec ated in historical literature and attempts to reconcile these theories with the scientific proofs often excised or smoothed over by much of Rameau's historiography. 38 Rameau's central theory, introduced in the second book of his Trait de l'harmonie was the basse fo ndamentale, or fundamental bass. This was a theoretical clar ification for a common practical application. Through the division of a string like the monochord, he derived the upper partials from a fundamental twenty years after but as yet unaware of the acoustical study of Joseph Sauveur (1653 1716) 39 and demonstrate d through it the derivation of consonances and their invertability. 40 He sought to show through his expansion of this mathematically derived fundamental that all music was harmonic at its core. From the succession of fundamentals comes a cadential system fo r root progression involving a dissonant seventh chord resolving to a consonant triad. 41 All else in music could be derived through the mathematical, harmonic relationships; this included melody, counterpoint, mode, and even rhythm. 42 Rameau's Trait contri buted to the eighteenth century perception of harmony and its greater connection to the workings of the world. In the Renaissance understanding harmony was central to the function of the world and could serve as a model to the universe, which gave it a div ine impact in healing the body and soul. 43 In the writings of 38 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 1 4. 39 Philip Gossett, "Introduction," in J ean Philippe Rameau, Treatise on Harmony trans. Philip Gossett ( New York: Dover Publications, 1971), xxi. 40 Rameau, Treatise 5 20. 41 Ibid., 63 42 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 5. 43 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 181.
41 Renaissance scholars, such as Marsilio Ficino (1433 99), music was mimetic, imitating the physical and emotional states of characters with such power that the passions were impressed upon the li steners. 44 This is very close to what the Enlightenment era writers sought in their descriptions of musical workings, simply with a transition away from the magical and cosmological towards the natural. It seems understandable, then, that upon discovering h is fundamental bass, Rameau would seek to apply it more broadly and reach a universal truth. He was not alone in this, though his pursuit of it to extremes alienated his supporters. His aesthetic principles were well rooted in scholarship of the time; thou gh he took a harmonic route rather than Rousseau's melodic route believing through the fundamental bass that natural expression of music was harmonic he followed Charles Batteaux's treatise Les beaux arts rduits un meme principe (1746) in claiming that music should mimic nature in order to affect the passions. The concept of rapport was extremely important to Rameau and his contemporaries, such as Diderot. The principle of rapport which emphasized order, proportion, and relationship, situated Rameau's w ork in the aesthetics of Jean Pierre Crousaz (1663 1750) and Yves Marie Andr (1675 1764). Crousaz claimed that genius came from the greatest amount of diversity without losing the relationships within the music. 45 Rameau placed the responsibility of this r elationship on the harmony of the corps sonore a "vibrating body" which produced harmonics above its fundamental and could be used to derive harmonic dissonance and 44 Ibid. 45 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 236 8.
42 resolution showing that his naturally generated proportions in harmony could be applied to create aesthetic unity, not just in music but to promote beauty in general. 46 The theory of the fundamental bass was first advanced in Rameau's Trait but Rameau's approach to it and to various derivatives and secondary theories was continued in writings t hroughout his entire life, with varying levels of clarity, continuity, and success. This leaves his theoretical works with the elusive complexity of constantly developing theories without any attempt at summary. This is further exacerbated by his often inc orrect pseudo scientific methods, which were adopted from contemporaries with varying levels of success. 47 Part of the advantage of Rameau's theoretical practice was its presentation of music theory as a scientific system. It was not so much a discovery as a synthesis of the many preexisting methods used to dictate orders of intervals. On the other hand, the sheer magnitude of the synthesis was what gave Rameau the title of the Newton of music. Similarly to the way that Newton reinterpreted and condensed his scientific predecessors to systematize celestial mechanics and optics, Rameau used a kind of unification to create a clear science of music distinct from arbitrary rules derived from thorough bass and abstract numerology associated with earlier theorists, such as Pythagoras or Boethius. Contemporaries such as the secretary of the Acadmie Royale des Sciences used the comparison to Newton to emphasize the enormity of Rameau's synthesis, with Jean Franois Marmontel in his ode to Rameau making the direct com parison in his opening line, naming Rameau the "Newton of music." 48 46 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 240. 47 Ibid., 13. 48 Ibid., 7 9.
43 This scientific codification of longstanding aesthetic principles follows the general path of naturalization which aesthetics was following at this time. Downing Thomas claims that the New tonian and Cartesian mechanics that dominated the eighteenth century naturalized the concepts, but maintained an intense fascination of "occult musical effects" that was rooted in the Aristotelian essentialism of the Renaissance. 49 The way music acted on th e body took on pseudo scientific terms when it was claimed to act by the harmonies' sympathetic resonance on the nerves or "nerve fluid." The corps sonore which translated literally means "vibrating bodies," was essential to Rameau's theories. He believed that all music could be simplified to rational laws, which he based on the harmonic partials of any resonant body. 50 This would have deep affective applications through the human body's resonance. The mechanical and moral effects distinct but interrelated, as defined by Joseph Louis Roger, a doctor of the Montpellier school, in 1758 acted on any corps sonore whether it was air or the ear. 51 This continued interest in the power of music was simply transformed into a discussion through natural effects that wa s typical of the eighteenth century. 52 In contrast to the effectiveness of his "Newtonian" synthesis, his arguments also tended towards Cartesian. 53 Though the height of intellectual fashion in the early Eighteenth century, the Cartesian concept of discardi ng preconceived notions and, by unbiased examination of a subject, deriving essential, self evident truths was an anachronism by the time Rameau appropriated the language. He borrowed evidence and 49 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 186. 50 Thomas Christensen and Jean Philippe Rameau, "Eig hteenth Century Science and the "Corps Sonore:" The Scientific Background to Rameau's "Principle of Harmony,"" Journal of Music Theory 31 (1987): 23. 51 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 192. 52 Ibid., 187. 53 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 215.
44 arguments from other philosophes in order to continue devel oping and refining his theories, and represented his theory of the fundamental bass in the rhetoric of many disparate fields. "One might compare his approach to the Australian Bower bird which builds its nest out of any discarded bits of colored paper and shiny metallic objects it can find." 54 Using Cartesian concepts of the blank slate, he claimed universality for his methods by examining them as if from the perspective of an untrained listener. This allowed him to claim that there was a natural order to af fections, one that was not syntactical but rather rooted in the movement of the fundamental bass. Application and Taste While there was general agreement that music should support the text of operatic works, there were many ideas of how to do so. The sci entific discussions of music all held that it had an e ffect on the listener, but whether this was through vibrating the nerves or nerve fluid the corps sonore or through imitation of the voice in passion was still debated. Rousseau believed that music comm unicated emotion through establish syntax, one based on vocal and melodic experience, while Rameau believed there was a natural, harmonic basis which could be reached and that emotion could be conveyed in dissonance and resolution. To further complicate an issue of objective musical affect, practical music had to obey good taste, bon got. Good aesthetic relationships were only half of the equation and wer e reflected through the ability of the listener to perceive these relationships. Taste and opinion chan ged constantly and unpredictably and impacted the effectiveness of an accompaniment. Even in reference to Lully's works, a character in the satirical opera Spectacles malades (1729) commented, "these drugs of divine virtue, 54 Chris tensen, Rameau and Musical Thought 13.
45 which of old did me so much good today no longer do anything for me." 55 In Paris where operas relied on audience attendance for success and were immediately replaceable, it is inevitable that while Rameau's theoretical works claimed increasing universality for his fundamental bass, his c omposition itself would respond instead to critique and taste. This becomes increasingly important in the 1750s during a time where he was competing actively with the successful Italian comedies. Nicolas Malebranche (1638 1715) was one of the first to sepa rate the geometrical hold on music's proportions from its appeal as art. He did not deny the aiding application of proportions, but in geometry's abstract scientific hold and art's responsibility to imitate nature concrete, rather than abstract the two are in fact, separate. 56 Pure relationships might not be the most agreeable and admitted nothing to preference. Le Got taste, was a consideration undertaken by those exploring the expression of music and audience interpretation of it. Rousseau saw taste as the judgment by which "ears that are sufficiently trained" could reach a consensus on music. "Where there is not perfect unanimity, this is because not everyone is equally well endowed with sound judgment." 57 It was the realm of taste to discern between the creations of geniuses, and, in his estimation, the common French audience was particularly bereft of taste. For him, the audience decided what was popular, but certainly not what was good. 58 55 Charles William Dill, "The Reception of Rameau' s Castor et Pollux' in 1737 and 1754" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 1989), 9. 56 A. Ri chard Oliver, The Encyclopedists As Critics of Music ( New York: Columbia Univ ersity Press, 1947 ), 14. 57 Jean Jacques Rousseau, "Taste," in Dictionnaire de musique (Geneva, 1767 and Paris, 1768), in Peter Le Huray and James Day, Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early N inete enth C enturies (Cambridge : Cambridge University Pr ess, 1988 ), 90 1. 58 Ibid., 91.
46 Rousseau acknowledged individual preference, separate from this v iew of taste which had the connotation of intellectual judgment but did not give it as much weight. 59 The intellectual elite certainly engaged with and in varying ways understood the music, but for a huge majority of the opera going Parisians, attending the opera was a social event and the music merely a pleasant ornament of the spectacle. For all Rameau's aspirations, his music had to fit within the preferences of aristocracy and royal administrators. 60 Though not his most innovative work, the original produ ction of Castor et Pollux exhibited many of Rameau's theoretical claims. The example from the last chapter is a clear instance, where modulation was used in Castor and Telaire's reunion duet in order to portray her denial and his sad goodbye in a pull betw een the major and the minor. In this instance, Rameau exhibited a text to music relationship that was very in line with his theories. Harmony was determined by the text by the sad interplay between the two characters but further interpreted it as well in t his case, by using harmony not to accent words but to illuminate the fundamental disconnect between the characters. 61 In the revisions of 1754, Rameau edited this without prompting from commentators, completely rewriting the accompaniment despite very littl e alteration of the libretto to warrant it. He weakened the broad implications of the modulations and focused the chordal movement instead on the passing implications of the words. 62 He shifted his definition of referential music, more traditionally linking words with embellishments, 59 Rousseau, Taste 90. 60 David Garrioch, The Marking of Revolutionary Paris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 10. 61 Charles William Dill, Monstrous Opera: Rameau and Tragic Opera (Princeton: Princeton Univers ity Press, 1998), 64 7. 62 Ibid., 91.
47 which gained him approval of audiences but weakened his standing in relation to his theorizing. 63 "What changed in this situation were the assumptions the composer made about music's capacity for signification. Straightforward, f ormal structures went the way of the elaborate recursive gestures of the 1730s, marking a flight from the text oriented features to musical features treated qua music." Modulation is still present in the 1754 production, but it bears on the mood not by req uiring the listeners to follow subtle voice leading but rather by drawing attention to how the musical features highlight the text. 64 This makes it a much more text based, dramatically emphasized accompaniment. Rameau was very aware, however, of this positi on in respect to his theory and his audience. There was controversy over whether theorists made good composers, and the issue of reconciling his theoretical and practical work was further complicated by constant critique. 65 In the 1740s and 50s, Rameau focu sed much of his work towards the reconciliation of theory and practice while under critique, particularly in the set of drastic revisions he made to earlier works. The dramatic portions recitatives or monologues, for example received much of his attention, exploring text music relationships and attempting to conform to both taste and his own theory. 66 Rameau removed some parts because of the difficulty of performance. There was at least one instance in the early production of Castor where the refusal of sin gers to perform a difficult passage caused him to revise it. 67 Some of his great passages, particularly ones that used very close dissonances a singer singing a minor second above the note played by the instrumentals or enharmonics intended to create 63 Ibid., 96. 64 Dill, Monstrous Opera 100 4. 65 Ibid., 57 8. 66 Ibid. 67 Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera 164.
48 recogn izable difference, were above the level of performance. Rameau recognized that this "would require docile musicians." 68 He shifted his attention, however, rather than abandoning his intentions. With focus on dramatic intent in response to critique, he pla ced his complexities away from the words, allowing the text to be ornamented but not dominated. This was a complete change in his thoughts on text setting, but was met with much greater approval than his work of the 1730s had been. 69 His theories claiming n atural properties to music had not changed, but by moving them away from the words, he was able to satisfy taste. Audiences shifted their attention slowly from narrative scenes seen in Parisian preference for spectacle despite what some of the intellectual debate insisted, and so Rameau's attention shifted as well. 70 This is typical of the history of musical scholarship, explained by John Neubauer as "the alternating dominance, the frequent battles, and the occasional peaceful coexistence of verbal and math ematical approaches to music." 71 Rameau pushed his theory towards a very scientific, mathematical understanding of the more linguistic affections. That his instrumentals become the platform for his theoretical work while his vocal selections become more imi tative and linguistic in their affective method is in coordination with this development. Rameau's "revolution" was that he drew attention to the music, rather than the recitative, which addressed long term issues in French music between interest and drama 72 68 Jean Philippe Rameau, Complete Theoretical Writings vol. 3, ed. Erwin R. Jacobi (American Institute of Musicolog y, 1972), 92. Translated in Downing A. Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Rgime, 1647 1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ), 164 5. 69 Dill, Monstrous Opera 104. 70 Ibid., 99. 71 Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music 7 8. 72 Dill, "The Re ception of Castor et Pollux, '" iii.
49 It is through his additions to divertissement s such as choruses, and through distinguished orchestral accompaniment that changes in style become most clear, where his focus shifts away from libretto and towards orchestration 73 The divertissements of th e 1754 Castor were expanded despite an entire act's worth of additional dramatic material that required him to edit for length. 74 This does not mean his use of accompanied recitatives was not complex. Rameau's close incorporation of instrumental work with the voice was particularly well blended. The opening of the fourth act demonstrated this through the less independent orchestra already in the 1737 production. 75 It is in the 1754 revision, however, that his use of orchestra is most coordinated with the rec itative. This was again used in close coordination with rather than long term interpretation of the text, using timbre and musical texture to underscore the most important lines. 76 Unlike the 1737 version, the music focused more on the representation of si tuational detail. Nevertheless, Rameau's emphasis on the music being as important as text remained. Several new recitatives were added, all of them accompanied by the orchestra. Rameau places these accompanied recitatives at key plot points where timbre an d instrumental quality rather than long range harmonic structures provide the musical interest (a case in point being Act 1, scene 2, which introduces Phb). 77 By writing Castor et Pollux a tragdie lyrique Rameau participated in a dramatic tradition com ing out of seventeenth century spoken tragedy. Previous composers, particularly Lully, had conveyed the dramatic content through text embellished and aided 73 Donald Jay Grout and Hermine Weigel Williams, A Short History of Opera (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 197 202. 74 Dill, "The Reception of Castor et Pollux, '" 26 8. 75 Girdlestone, Jean Philippe Rameau 21 9. 76 Dill, Monstrous Opera 100. 77 Ibid., 99 102.
50 mimetically by music. In coordination with eighteenth century aesthetic discussion focusing on music 's affective power, Rameau shifted a greater emphasis to the music by attempting to harmonically guide deeper emotional movement of the scene, rather than emphasizing the individual words and phrases. He focused on the inter workings of text with music, no t intending to raise music above the drama it was supporting, but in doing so, he granted music the ability to stand on its own. 78 As seen in the previous chapter, in Rameau's early career this focus allowed him to bring about reform and renew a lagging gen re. By the 1750s, however, his goals had changed. His theoretical writings had increased the breadth of his harmonic claims, eclectically collecting evidence and applications that "proved" the natural structure of music around the corps sonore Quite to th e contrary, his music was less radical in its application of his theoretical principles. Rameau was established as a composer and his goals were no longer to reform theoretically or prove himself as a composer in Lully's tradition, but rather to compose wo rks that could compete popularly with opera buffa 78 Burgess, Enlightening Harmonies 403.
51 Chapter 3: Absolutism and the Querelle des Bouffons Meaning and emotion in music was a central preoccupation spurring the theoret ical developments discussed in the previous two ch apters. While composers debated how best to communicate through their music and w hether music should communicate at all or merely entertain extra musical ideas such as "national" identity, political alignme nt, and the task of upholding morals found a place within the works and their discussions. Particularly during a period of scholarly engagement such as the Enlightenment, opera served as a platform through which larger ideas could be expressed. The musical tragic, theoretical, and aesthetic issues addresse d in the previous two chapters we re deeply connected to this expression through the musical vocabulary that had developed As Enlightenment thinkers examined the religious and political structure of Franc e, opera was one more domain in which their ide as could apply, and to this end tragdie lyrique served as a symbol for absolutist authority. Absolutism was present in the tragedies through their steadfast praise of the king and through institutionalized or igins and support. Particularly during the querelle des bouffons which was addressed in Chapter 1 a correlation between bouffonists and anti establishment philosophes suggests that some of the motivation of the philosophes was not so much against the mus ic of the opera as against the system it represented. They supported Italian comedy, which was part of a broader, lower culture. This control of taste presented a shift of audience similar to the shift of education to include a wider base inclusive beyond the aristocracy. 1 T his audience control could significantly affect the content of operas with their presence Early in the century, Rameau had reformed tragdie lyrique acting not against the 1 Margaret C. Jacob, The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents (Boston and New York:
52 established French music but to maintain it. By the 1750s, howe ver, his music was representative of a complex, national genre of French opera. The 1754 revision of Castor et Pollux particularly reinforced tragdie lyrique against the critique of b o uffonist writings, represent ing the strength of French opera in the fac e of musical and social critique. Opera as an absolutist symbol The genre of tragdie lyrique gained value as much from symbolic importance as from aesthetic popularity. This can be seen in the way Rameau and others of the early eighteenth century focuse d their efforts on reform rather than abandoning the genre when it faced declining popularity. 2 It was a French cultural icon with nationalistic implications, holding a patriotic position and, by extension, a strong connection to the French monarchy The s tructure under which these operas were written was itself politically driven. Louis XIV established the Acadmie Royale de Musique as part of a system of academies in the arts and sciences meant to place them more effectively under his control He took per sonal interest in opera and intervened through confirmation of personnel and music making decisions, such as picking libretti and operating rehearsals. Until late in the eighteenth century, all administrative decisions needed to be approved by the bureaucr atic structure stemming from Versailles. 3 Physically as well, royal presence would have been felt everywhere in the mid century opera house. Around f orty soldiers 2 Charles Will iam Di ll, "The Reception of Rameau's Castor et Pollux' in 1737 and 1754" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 1989), 76 7. 3 James H. Johnson, Listening in Paris: A Cultural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 10 11.
53 a rmed with muskets patrolled the floors, and i n th e frequently rowdy setting, they were meant to maintain "the order due a Royal House." 4 In this atmosphere, dissent and open protest of disliked genres and conten t was expressed particularly in the parterre, the section of the audien ce for the less elite Parisians. Attempts to control this disrupti on can be seen during the querelle when thos e on both sides of the debate such as d'Alemb ert and Diderot and others after being too rowdy in protest or support, were forced to sit on a raised bench by the police where their actions could be observed 5 The fact that Acadmie was royally financed was one of the main reasons that tragdie lyrique was still a viable genre despite its production costs The Acadmie's production s were intended to make profit, as exemplified by the many reforms to this end in the early eighteenth century, such as the royal legislation of 1714 T his same legislation however, also ensured that the less profitable, tragic genre would continue to be performed, acknowledging its status as being more respectable artistically. 6 Royal int erference came in other forms, notably the slowly extending list of free admissions. 7 While Louis XIV had insisted that few if any grants of this sort were give, by the 1750s over two hundred administrators, actors, philosophes and officers could attend t he opera free of charge by royal grant, which biased the audience towards the governmental structures in which they participated. 8 Just as the state maintained the opera, the opera maintained the state. In part because of the need for content a nd admini strative approval that was so strong during the 4 Almanach des spec tacles (Paris: Chez Duchesne, 1759), 19. Translated in James H. Johnson, Listening in Paris ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995 ), 9. 5 Johnson, Listening in Paris 18. 6 Dill, "The Reception of Castor et Pollux, '" 10. 7 Johnson, Listening in P aris 19. 8 Ibid.
54 foundations of the genre at the time of Louis XIV, structural elements of tragdie lyrique were intended to praise and glorify the king. This is evident in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century prologu es, which were intended to contextualize the opera within contemporary events that most glorified royal accomplishment. 9 The original prologue of the 1737 production of Rameau's Castor et Pollux offers a very good example of this. It was a standard analogy of current events, praising Louis XV's actions in the Wa r of Polish Succession (1733 8) Using the characters of Venus and Mars coming to a romantic reconciliation, Rameau praised the resolution that had recently been reached through the end of the war. T he act glorifies more than the resolution itself, but also directly Louis XV's person as king and his actions to bring about peace. As discussed in Chapter 1, this was a part of the opera that particularly emphasized French elements, built from spectacle a nd dances, most specifically the ballet de cour which was the style that the king himself danced. 10 The elements that were linked with distinctly French tradition were also those elements that were most praising of the absolutist bureaucracy. Beyond the o rigins that would imply an authoritative motivation, operatic content and philosophy lend it to propagandistically support royal authority. The classical origins of opera were closely associated with Roman philosophical and political roots : o pera particul arly the French variety, was born out of an autocratic and aristocratic system, supported largely through patronage. 11 The mythological content blended with philosophical underpinnings to imply Roman origins; t he essential moral dilemmas of 9 Graham Sadler, "Tragdie en musique," in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera ed. Stanley Sadie (New York: Grove' s Dictionaries of Music, 1992 ), 4:782 4. 10 Richard Taruskin, The Oxford History of Western Music ( New York: Oxford Universit y Press, 2010 ), 2:91 2. 11 Robert C. Ketterer, "Why Ear ly Opera is Roman and Not Greek, Cambridge Opera Journal 15 (2003): 1.
55 "instinct and du ty, emotion and reason, love and honor" so popular i n baroque operas were rooted in Neostoicism 12 The Roman stoic struggle of duty and desire made its way through operatic history, and remained present in tragic works until late in the eighteenth century. Even as late 1791, Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito finds resolution in "Senecan lessons about effective and responsible governance, and the Stoic tug and pull of honor loyalty, duty, personal affection, tyranny and clemency." 13 Roman imagery and classical as sociation were common device s used in Old Regime France to justify power and wealth. The seventeenth century called on antiquity this way, such as in validation of the king's power through classical precedent and the succession of empires in Discours sur l 'histoire universelle Jacques Bossuet's address to Louis XIV. 14 This sort of justification was then deeply tied to the academies in the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns, querelle des Anciens et des Modernes in which antiquity and contemporary times were compared in such a way that even while claiming modern French power to exceed classical times the perspective of the Moderns authority continued to be defined in classical language and association. 15 Through classical and royal association tragdie l yrique was well established to reinforce absolutist principles. This was only reinforced musically after the eighteenth century aesthetic developments of affective music. In the context of music's power to create sympathetic emotions and identification, op era offered a unique platform for 12 Ketterer, Early Opera 7 8. 13 Ibid., 9 11. 14 Sara Chapman, Bossue t, Jacques Bnigne (1627 1704)," in Europe, 1450 to 1789 : Enc yclopedia of the Early Modern World ed. Jonathan Dewald ( New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004), 1:287 289 15 Joseph M. Levine, "Ancients and Moderns," in Europe, 1450 to 1789 : Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World ed. Jonathan Dewald ( New York : Charl es Scribner's Sons, 2004), 1:61 63.
56 imparting moral standards and retaining social systems. 16 Highly political in origin, support, and content, opera was a cultural symbol around which intellectuals could debate the social and governmental order. Couched in m usical terms, writings on opera extended existing arguments of the philosophes. Bouffonists and Rameau Though the exact intent of the writers is an extremely controversial issue, many scholars view the querelle des bouffons as having more political and so cial motivation than merely belief in aesthetic superiority. Beyond for all intents and purposes supporting Italian music as being inherently better music, Rousseau and the other bouffonists appear to have had anti establishment critique in mind in their a rguments against French tragdie lyrique The historiography on this subject is greatly confused by the biases of twentieth century scholarship on the French Revolution. In his outline of varying views on the bouffonists Charles Paul divides the opposing views into those who believe that the bouffonists those who were non French, such as Rousseau, in particular intended the destruction of French music and the government it represented and those who believe that the bouffonists merely commented on contempor ary preference, observers but not actors in political discussion. 17 While neither of these starkly divided opinions is likely to be completely correct, the vast scholarship on the matter invites a deeper look. The political climate in the 1750s was one of c ritique against royal authority, and it is likely that Rousseau and his contemporaries intended to contribute to that conversation. 16 Downing A. Thomas, Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Rgime, 1647 1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ), 180. 17 Charles B. Paul, "Music and Ideology: Rameau, Rousseau and 1789," Journal of the History of I deas 32 (1971), 395 410.
57 Whether they acted as a "conspiracy" sparking the next generation's Revolution is less convincing, though their attacks cont ributed to the continued but already long since begun deterioration of French operatic hold and a general weakening of the moral and social structures it supported. In the mid eighteenth century, France experienced a political disturbance along with much o f Europe in the form of the imperialist W ar of Austrian Succession (1740 8). Louis XV achieved mixed success in the war, with his armies experiencing drastically reversing victories and defeats, and was viewed critically in terms of his competence and his court and mistress. By the 1750s, Paris had become a center of Enlightenment thought with an emphasis on the need for reform. 18 Perceptions of the monarchy but also of Paris itself shifted in this time. At the beginning of the century, descriptions of Paris remained very positive, promising a sophisticated, cultured "famous city" to tourists and provincials. By the 1750s, however, negative discussion entered this picture, and the city adopted a comparison to Babylon. 19 Daily interference and perceptions of de spotism were increasing as the analytical efforts of the Enlightenment scholars impacted belief of how the government should be run. The increasing systemization to perfect the various bureaucratic organizations was undertaken both by those organizations a nd in discussion by the philosophes, and the imposition of the values of the educated on all classes came under critique. 20 Though censorship was not at its former height, critique and discussion of reform were not encouraged by the authoritative bureaucrac y. The techniques used for discussion 18 Jacob, The Enlightenment 50 19 David Garrioch, The Making of Revolutionary Paris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 209. 20 Ibid., 226 31.
58 of reform were later name d "Aesopian language." These disguised their topic in some way, distancing the social commentary by creating fictional foreigners to critique French society or by praising outside u topias. More direct works were published anonymously or under a false or historical name. 21 This kind of displacement of discussion is demonstrated again in the q uerelle when focus is put on musical technique rather than social structures. The q uerelle focused ostensi bly on two factions, one supporting tragdie lyrique and the other supporting Italian opera buffa hence bouffonists a group that corresponded consistently to known anti establishment philosophe s. 22 The sheer hostility of the response from proponents of Fren ch music also suggests greater consequences than purely musical. As one of the clear leaders of the bouffonists Rousseau attacked the fundamental idea of French music, not merely expressing the superiority of Italian style but claiming that French music d id not effectively express sentiments in any way and clouded melody so far in complication that "the French nation has no music and can never have any." 23 The response was an attack not only on the bouffonists motivations claiming that they were attempting to subvert France's political, religious, and cultural institutions but also ad hominem against Rousseau, delineating his inferiority as a composer relative to Rameau. 24 Protesting that true patriots could never make claims against such an honored traditio n, the pro French faction painted Rousseau as a madman 21 Peter Gay, "The Enlightenment in the History of Political Theory," Politi cal Science Quarterly 69 (1954): 384. 22 Paul, Music and Ideology 396. 23 Ibid., 396 7. 24 Ibid., 397 8.
59 out to destroy the French art, naming the cause as a "sick brain, unequivocal heart, and a dangerous and false mind." 25 The bouffonists choice to support comic Italian opera was significant both for I talian opera's long standing use against French opera and also for several content reasons. Italian opera had, in the eighteenth century, eliminated deities from most storylines. With the skepticism of religion that was commonly associated with a weakening in royal authority through the weakening of their divine right cynicism in regard to operatic miracles was common. Opera buffa in this way would contrast with French opera, where the words and aid of the divine and, through it, the meddling of royal inter ference were still present in the conception great drama. 26 The choice to support a comedic genre not only exhibits genuine consistency with contemporary taste but also benefits from the advantages of comedy as social commentary. As discussed in Chapter 2, taste ( le got ) determined the extent to which theories of aesthetics and intellectual trends could be employed in operatic works. In the eighteenth century particularly, the focus o f creative work was turning from tragedy to more comedic sources. Even tra gedies very much in the vein of French tradition, such as the opera seria libretti by Metastasio were made more appealing to audiences through a comic core. 27 The benefit of taste, which dictated the financial success of an opera, combined in comedic opera with the advantage of humor to enable social commentary. Humor has many uses to the human mind. It enables education and engaged thought by 25 Jacques Cazotte, Observations sur la lettre de J. J. Rousseau au sujet de la musique francaise (1753) quoted in Charles B. Paul, "Music and Ideology: Rameau, Rousseau and 1789," Journal of the History of Ideas 32 (1971): 398. 26 Geoffrey Burgess, "Enlightening Harmonies: Rameau's corps sonore and the Representation of the Divine in the tragdie en musique ," Journal of the American Musicological Society 6 5 (2012): 391. 27 Ketterer, Early Opera 5.
60 making people take the extra few steps to "get" the joke. It can also provide a useful way to address topics that a re uncomfortable or discouraged. 28 Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona for example, exhibits the common use in the eighteenth century of servants mocking their masters for social commentary. 29 Castor et Pollux The 1754 revision of Castor et Pollux is an effectiv e source for examining the effects of the querelle for a variety of reasons. As discussed in Chapter 1, despite protests to the contrary by several bouffonists it represented an end to the querelle and a victory for tragdie lyrique As a revision, it als o provides an opportunity to examine the changes Rameau made, though these may or may not be directly caused by the querelle Finally, in some ways, Rameau's goals as a composer in this revisionary period of his career in coordination with his theoretical claims would require his music to contain very different features than those of a purely absolutist symbol. For all that the work was likely intended as a demonstration of victory over the bouffonists its popularity in the socially critical mid century at mosphere indicates a balance between acquiescence to audience pressures and reinforcement of Rameau's own ends. As established at the beginning of this chapter, the genre itself was steeped in absolutism. Rameau, in his choice to write tragdies lyriques d espite success in light genres, aligned himself with the ideals of tragic opera. In fact, had he written instead in the light genres, his theoretical work and adjusting of the relationship between text and 28 James L. Teslow, "Humor Me: A Call for Research, Educational Technology Research and Development 43 (1995): 6 7. 29 Garrioch, The Making of Revolutionary Paris 36.
61 music might have been better accepted. 30 Tragdie l yrique was more admired as a genre, however, and symbolized something uniquely French. Audiences recognized the operatic genre as being representative of French culture. 31 It was the fact that Castor was a tragdie lyrique in 1754 that defined its status ag ainst the bouffonists It was extremely successful, remaining in production for many more runs than the original and receiving elaborate praise from the Mercure which had been long absent in regards to Rameau's work in the late 1730s and 40s 32 His intent in remaining in this genre is thus likely patriotic but was perhaps focused more on recognition than on being completely oriented around the monarchy or even national pride. In general, Rameau placed the most emphasis on his ideas and his music. Rameau's s tyle was more self aggrandizing than a composer focused entirely on praising his sovereign would be. 33 Despite the inherent political reference within the genre, the structure of the tragdie lyrique was altered from how it had initially held the greatest p olitical reference. Johnson lists the lack of a prologue in Castor 's 1754 version as a demonstration of decreased political reference, part of a broader trend of removal. This illustrates a change in taste, shifting the focus of taste from Versailles to Pa ris. 34 It is important to make the distinction, however, that the removal of the prologue indicates Rameau's awareness of the preference of his audience not a choice to decrease absolutist presence in his opera. One device in particular, however, was indica tive of Rameau's political, theoretical, and musical goals, and it is present in Castor et Pollux as with his other tragdie lyriques. Rameau's theoretical work is represented in this opera in a way that 30 Dill, "The Reception of Castor et Pollux, 63. 31 Ibid., 296. 32 Ibid., 110. 33 Taruskin, The Oxford History 110. 34 Johnson, Listening in Paris 22.
62 exemplifies the underlying political representation in the music and Rameau's own adaptation of it to work with contemporary preference. The corps sonore was his theoretical explanation of the harmonic series, the chords it generated, and the way those tones acted on resonating bodies. It was this system of harmony that he claimed was the underlying structure for many arts and sciences. The usage of this harmony, though not with Rameau's name for it, w as established in French canon, frequently used to signify oracles and divine words. By the late seventeen th century, around 1680, it was common to use sonorou s harmony simply resonating to accompany an oracle and give the words an ethereal quality. 35 The harmonic halo used to represent divine words of oracles was consistent with Charles Batteaux's guidelines for signifying the heroic or divine through extraordinary inflection. 36 That it was established in the French tradition to do so through harmonic rather than melodic means makes it a perfect device for Rameau to employ and draw on during his contest with Rous seau eliciting an emotional response not through a linguistic representational status but rather through manipulation of harmonic materials. 37 This device can be seen in both the 1737 and 1754 versions of Castor et Pollux Act V, Scene 4 (Scene 3 of the 1 754 revision) serves as a consistent example between the two. In this scene, Jupiter enters to resolve the opera, offering a deus ex machin a solution to the essential dilemma. Rather than either brother having to give his life for the other, Jupiter declar es them both immortal. The god's interruption is accompanied musically by the typical emphasis of ethereal harmony. The singer is accompanied by a single line marked doux (smooth) This usage is particularly interesting for its retention in the revised ver sion, during a time when dues ex machina had waned in popularity. 35 Burgess, Enlightenment Harmonies 383. 36 Ibid., 390. 37 Ibid., 421.
63 His us e of this divine harmony di d not represent a purely musical or theoretical practice. Since the authority of the monarchy was strongly connected to their divine right to rule, the oracl es and miracles that appeared on stage evoked thoughts of the absolutist system. Oracles represented a power beyond themselves, most obviously the power that allowed them the stage, which was the royal patron. 38 Religious skepticism combined with mid centur y grievances against the monarchy spurred the philosophes to question the legitimacy of divine right. As the gap between the divine and monarchic authority widened, these oracles moved offstage, out of the human experience, but their presence still indicat ed some kind of rule or truth from a larger source. 39 The oracle still maintained its own authority, if not the king's. The 1754 treatise La danse ancienne ou moderne, ou Trait historique de la danse by Rameau's closely associated librettist Calhus ac expre ssed the strong belief that art triumphed by way of the oracular word over "any modern reasoning, discussion, experience, or the best treatises." 40 Despite Rameau's incorporation of the corps sonore as reminiscent of the tradition, his writing showed a dev elopment of the idea to fit with what was expected from contemporary audiences. More than his increasing of its complexity through greater density of the orchestral accompaniment essential to his issues of text music relationships because of the ease with which the harmony overtook the words 41 he applied it to choruses that were more referential to large groups of people. This can be seen earliest in Hippolyte et Aricie where the corps sonore was employed to this affect in the Theban chorus to Hades and th en continued in works such a Plate outside of the 38 Burgess, Enlightening Harmonies 387. 39 Ibid. 40 Ibid., 427. 41 Ibid., 390.
64 genre of tragdie lyrique In these instances, it is used not as divine inspiration but as the reasoned enlightenment of the people, drawn from nature rather than a divine source. 42 Rameau's use of the cor ps sonore in this way adapted it to a broader social group but still reinforced its political reference. The adaptation demonstrate d awareness of social reform of the Enlightenment but the harmony retained the theoretical ideas of Rameau. Rameau shifted di vine revelation to the closely associated natural one. By imbuing, theoretically, the harmony of the corps sonore with a higher status inherent to all arts and sciences, it took on a creationist, d ivine source as the universe's building block, similar to t he concept of musica mundana Authority was deferred from the religious authority skeptically questioned in its imbuing royal power, but retained its divine source, harmonic and affective power, and referential quality. 43 This fits with the idea that he wa s enforcing the established system, but was doing so to aid a much broader, French culture. Over the course of the eighteenth century, the visibility and employment of absolutism changed, both in opera and in society in general. Oracles became less common and moved off stage as the link between the divine and authority on stage deteriorated. While oracles were not necessarily easy to remove from older works, the inclusion of them took on a decidedly reactionary tone. Rameau included them in all of his trag dies lyriques including his last in the late 1760s. 44 With the drastic revision of Castor for its 1754 production and with the significant place it held in opposition to the querelle the choice not to avoid oracles can be assumed to be an active decision. Despite their connotations, however, they provided Rameau with the opportunity to showcase 42 Bur gess, Enlightening Harmonies 426 43 Ibid., 439. 44 Ibid., 416.
65 traditional French uses of harmony in a way that also reinforce d the political origins of tragdie lyrique Through the use of choruses and his own metaphysical tie s between the corps sonore and the universe, he made the authority of the oracles more natural and therefore more socially acceptable.
66 Conclusion The two facets of Rameau's career, music and theory, followed opposite trajectories: his the ories became more radical while his music became more accessible. This trajectory was in fact determined by the events of Rameau's lifetime His music at first seemed radical because of the need to reform tragdie lyrique b u t became less so when the genre needed instead to be made accessible and win audiences. By that point, Rameau had already become well established He frequently engaged in theoretical discussion about opera and was involved in a n increasingly heated conflict with Rousseau. His arguments with their eclectic methods and his own inflammatory personality, encountered opposition from even those philosophes who had long been his allies. Despite this, he was able to produce operas to great success, defeating the bouffonists through his work in the traditional French genre of tragdie lyrique As with the representation of the divine through the corps sonore he employed and developed harmonic devices to support and deepen the meaning of the scene significantly in the latter case the absolutist implications that the bouffonists opposed. At the time of Castor et Pollux 's original production, the problems facing tragdie lyrique were centered on its stagnation since Lully. In the 1730s, Rameau revitalized tragdie lyrique by challenging the estab lished relationship between music and text and addressing music's affective place in drama Through his recitative scenes and use of accompaniment informed by his theoretical work on the fundamental bass, he renewed interest in the genre if only through the controversy stirred up between the
67 L ullistes and the R amistes He addressed the definition of French opera, particularly as it related to Italian music, and helped to maintain tragdie lyrique as a French cultural icon. In 1754 when Rameau revised Cast or et Pollux his theoretical work had continued to develop but the challenge to tragdie lyrique had shifted. The 1754 revision cont ended with the popularity of light genres, particularly Italian opera buffa and the direct challenge offered by Rousseau and the bouffonists both to tragdie lyrique as a genre and to the absolutist regime it stood for Rameau's practical use of theory shifted away from the more challenging representations of the 1737 production, focusing instead on the sections of divertiss ement However, the essence of his harmony is still visible particularly through the divine harmony of oracles. The popularity of the 1754 production d emonstrated Rameau's success in maintaining interest in tragdie lyrique As one of the main participant s in the eighteenth cent ury discussion of aest hetics, Rameau engaged with mathematical, imitative, and natural theories both in his music and theory. He addressed the relati onship between text and music, apply ing contemporary theory on affect to give music a more central role in conveying the drama of tragdie lyrique In theory, Rameau developed music from a mimetic represe ntation of words and phrases to more holistic musical textures He used lingu istic and mathematical musical elements synergistically fo r deeper textual interpretation, and t o this end, he found the key to guiding his audience's emotions in harmony, through modulation and consonance and dissonance guided by the corps sonore In both 1737 and 1754 productions of Castor et Pollux Rameau's w ork enabled tragdie lyrique to remain, at least for a short while longer, a successful and profitable genre.
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