Term Paper: Opera French Opera- the Collaboration Between Quinault

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Opera

French opera- the collaboration between Quinault and Lully

The existence of operas is largely owed to the good cooperation that takes place between composers and librettists, with the latter writing the text on which the artwork is based on while the former adapt the respective writing to their perspective on music. Great works have been produced across time from the hands and minds of composers and librettists. Jean-Baptiste Lully and Philippe Quinault are recognized for the role they played in the opera world, given that their association lasted for several years and they composed a great deal of material for opera houses from around the world. Both artists were engaged in projects before they came to cooperate. Their collaboration was however more fruitful for the two in comparison to works they had previously done.

Philippe Quinault was dedicated to write great stories and poems during his early life as an artist. In spite of the fact that he managed to produce a series of intriguing works, he was unable to establish a name in the world of opera enthusiasts. It was not until he got actively engaged in writing tragedies that he came to be appreciated by artists and critics in the industry. Following his first tragedies, the public lost interest in supporting him for the contribution he brought to the genre, most probably because his later tragedies were less appealing than the ones he initially wrote. In an attempt to write materials that would seem interesting to the audiences, he also produced comedies and tragi-comedies. One can find certain similarities between Quinault's works and those of Moliere, but this does not necessarily mean that the former had copied the later, since there was a general tendency for writers to write comedies and tragic-comedies at the time.

Quinault achieved little success from 1670 until 1671, during his stay at the Academie Francaise. 1671 however was the year that brought him the chance to collaborate with Lully, with Quinault contributing to Psyche. The librettist and composer immediately determined that this cooperation was especially important for both of them and focused on collaborating for a large part of the rest of their lives."This new composition on an old subject was well received, and it enjoyed a run of 23 performances, lasting until 19 January 1772. Daily receipts reached more than 4,000 livres on four of these days and dropped below 1,000 livres in only three instances" (Pitou, 1983, p. 29).

Although Lully had previously been engaged in writing notable opera works and knew the benefits coming along with working in the domain. In contrast, Quinault was amazed of the profits he gained from the business and from the public's appreciation of his work. Those who were previously uncertain in regard to Quinault's talent were hypnotized when seeing and hearing the success the librettist had as a result of his collaboration with Lully ("Quinault, Philippe," 2009).

Although libretti are normally impossible to read and understand if they are not accompanied by music, Quinault's works are among the most intriguing due to the fact that they are accessible to a wide range of individuals. Quinault did not actually concentrate on making them complex or perfect, since what he wanted was to have readers and spectators in particular be taken into his world. He had great success in doing this, given that the authorities needed to get involved when operas issued by them were in production, with the masses being willing to do anything in order to witness them. "It was not unusual for spectators to see the same opera at least ten or fifteen times in a season, and Quinault's libretti were widely published and eagerly discussed" (Bufford, 2001, p. 1).

Even though he was born in a poor family, Lully was quick to develop his skills and had his talent recognized from an early age. With the help of influential individuals in France, Lully came to be one of King Louis XIV's favorites, initially assisting the king in ballet dancing and later composing operas that were sung throughout France. The King had apparently considered the composer to be one of his only true friends, thus the reason for which Lully received little to no criticism for his eccentric lifestyle.

At the time when Lully discovered Quinault, the composer realized that the librettist would play an essential role in making his operas among the most recognized artworks. The operas that the two produced were received with great enthusiasm by the French public and by most audiences that came to see them. Quinault is largely responsible for making Lully one of the most respected composers in the world. Lully is also believed to be the individual who founded the French opera, given that he chose to ignore older Italian styles in favor of adapting his operas to the public in France ("Lully, Jean Baptiste," 2009).

Even with the fact that Racine was among the most important tragic writers from the second half of the seventeenth century, Lully recognized Quinault's talent and did not hesitate to employ him as a librettist. Although most people are uncertain whether Quinault surpassed Racine through his collaboration with Lully, the truth is that the two artists were different primarily because of what they wanted from their field of work. Racine was not actually interested in having his writings adapted so that they would be sung, whereas Quinault was determined to produce writings that could be easily adapted so that they would be contained in operas (Bufford, 2001, p. 5).

Jean-Baptiste Lully and Philippe Quinault did not only manage to create operas that surprised the whole world through their beautifulness, as they are actually responsible for creating a whole new genre in the opera world. Tragedie en musique is all about having an opera maintain a sobre and eminent atmosphere, with its heartbreaking character being but an element in the overall chain of factors meant to make it excellent. Lully's music had already been appreciated by the French audience at the time that he started his collaboration with Quinault. Even with that, he risked getting involved in a relationship that did not initially promise much, but that eventually made him one of the most recognized composers in the world (Bufford, 2001, p. 5).

One of the most recognized operas that were produced by Lully and Quinault is Armide. Some even believe that the opera is the duo's masterpiece and the main reason for which they are celebrated in the world of opera music. "Armide, with a libretto by Philippe Quinault and a score by Jean-Baptiste Lully, had had its world premiere at the Palais-Royal* in 1686 (for Lully, Quinault, and Armide, see seventeenth-century volume), but it was not until 23 September 1777 that Gluck's new score for Quinault's libretto was heard at the Opera. This latter score for Quinault's poem is considered one of Gluck's most admirable accomplishments, and musicians have nominated a number of passages in it as being worthy of admission into concert repertory, especially the two airs by Armide, "Enfin il est en ma puissance" ( II, 5) and "Ah! si la liberte me doit etre ravie" ( III, 1)."(Pitou, 1983, p. 51).

Armide is apparently the reason for which many individuals liken Quinault to Racine, given that the opera contains a great deal of elements present in Racine's work. While the opera received numerous critiques when it was first issued, opera enthusiasts rapidly understood the role that this work played in the larger context, with its character being constructive and overall innovative (Pitou, 1983, p. 52).

Armide was enormously successful and it was practically the materialization of Lully and Quinault's relationship. The opera's success is perfectly illustrated through the fact that it was part of the repertoire at the Paris Operas for seventy-eight years, with the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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