French Opera Criticism

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Armide from the Praise and Criticism of French Opera Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Armide consists of five acts and a beginning overture, called a prologue. This is in conformity to the Aristotelian ideal of length in the opera as a musical genre and in contrast to the Italian practices of the time. The French recitative and aria are the focus of Raguenet and Lecerf’s criticism and praise of French opera. This section will evaluate one of the Armide’s recitatives and arias in light of Raguenet and Lecerf’s arguments over French opera. In order to create a French recitative, Lully had to adapt the music to the French language. This adaptation resulted in a recitative with meter changes between duple and triple as needed to allow for the…show more content…
As King Louis XIV and Jean-Baptiste Lully had a close relationship, Lully’s goal was to respect and obey King Louis’s demands upon the arts. Because Lully was King Louis XIV’s favorite court musician, it was with his permission and support that Lully created a French style opera. In obedience to the crown and to France, Lully “reconciled the demands of drama, music, and ballet in a new French form of opera” (Burkholder, et al. 361). One of the elements of the new French opera that shows the influence of King Louis XIV on Lully’s Armide was the overture at the beginning. As this overture was in welcome of the king, its sound was appropriately majestic in keeping with King Louis’s use of the arts as propaganda. Not only did the music praise the king, but also the text. Quinault used the opera as an opportunity to glorify France and admire its king. “His texts were overtly and covertly propagandistic” and they celebrated the king in literal terms or in allegory (Burkholder, et al. 361). King Louis XIV’s influence can be seen most prominently in Armide’s grand French overture, but also within the undertones of the
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