Lysandre, a jeune premier (a leading man) in Molière’s theatre. His name recurs as do other names, such as Clitandre, Valère.
Molière used the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte, but when he was touring the provinces, he sometimes posted a sketch, le canevas, and characters wrote their role. In other words, Molière did not write comedies before he returned to Paris. But he had to publish his Précieuses ridicules so no one else could claim the comedy, a farce, was his or hers.
This is a very short post. My computer cannot access WordPress easily. My new computer should arrive soon. I’m upgrading.
I may publish early posts, the ones that were not read.
If the computer will let me, I will read your posts.
Le Ballet comique de la Reine(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Molière (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673), born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, spent several years performing outside Paris. His first troupe, l’Illustre Théâtre, established in 1643, went bankrupt and, in 1645, Molière was imprisoned. He had to leave for the provinces.
Les Précieuses ridicules, a one-act play which premièred on 18 November 1659, was Molière’s first Parisian success and he would produce several other plays, about thirty-four, eleven of which were comédies-ballets, ten with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and one, with music by Charpentier. However, preceding the comédie-ballet, was the ballet de cour.
Louise was married to Henri III of France, a son a Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici, who was assassinated by Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic. As for Anne de Joyeuse (1561 – 1687), he perished at the hands of French Calvinist Protestants, called Huguenots, 800 of whom he had slaughtered. In fact, the French wars of religion are the backdrop to the creation of the ballet de cour.
Daniel Rabel: the “grotesque” in the ballet de cour
Daniel Rabel (1578 – 3 January 1637) was a man of many talents. Wikipedia describes Rabel as “a Renaissance French painter, engraver, miniaturist, botanist and natural history illustrator.” As a painter, Rabel produced grotesque depictions of ballet, but beginning in 1617 until his death in 1637, Rabel was a set designer for theatres and for ballets de cour.
In our context the term grotesque (from grotto) is not pejorative. The ‘grotesque’ is an aesthetics as is the ‘baroque.’ Medieval gargoyles and misericords are acceptably ‘grotesques.’ Beverly Minster, a 12th-century cathedral, has a fine collection of grotesque misericords. In the 19th century, Hugo would revive the grotesque. His 1831 novel, Notre-Dame de Paris features Quasimodo, a hunchback. The “grotesque” is associated with the Middle Ages and the 19th century.
Le Roi danse
“Les Fées de la forêt de Saint-Germain” was danced at the Louvre in February 1625, with Louis XIII himself in the role of a “valiant fighter.” (See Daniel Rabel, Wikipedia.) Louis XIII also danced in the ballet he composed, the Ballet de la Merlaison.
You may remember that Louis XIII, the Sun-King’s father, wrote the Ballet de la Merlaison. Louis XIII was a composer and he composed a ballet. Consequently, the creation of ballet is associated with both Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV. However, Louis XIII’s Ballet de la Merlaison is a ballet de cour as had been Circé ou le Balet Comique de la Royne. As noted above, Louis XIII performed in the ballet he composed.
Other ballets de cour were performed before 1661, when Molière created Les Fâcheux, (the Bores), to music byLully. King Louis XIII, the Sun-King’s father (Louis XIV), was a composer and, as noted above, he played a role in “Les Fées de la forêt de Saint-Germain.” Louis XIII composed the Ballet delaMerlaison, a ballet de cour.
Le Ballet de la Merlaison by Maurice Leloir, in Dumas père’s The Three Musketeers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme: comédie ballet and “play-within-a-play”
For a long time, little attention was given Molière’s contribution to ballet, and my book, if ever it is published, will not improve matters as I will discuss only one comédie-ballet: George Dandin (1668). However, one cannot ignore Le Bourgeois gentihomme (14 November 1670), where the ballet is both entertainment and a play-within-a play. Monsieur Jourdain is deceived into marrying his daughter Lucile to Cléonte who has disguised himself into the son of the Mufti, le grand Turc. This is a case of comedy rescuing comedy.
Molière wrote the text of his comédies-ballets, and the text may be read independently of the divertissements, for which he also wrote the text. However, these ballets inject laughter into Molière’s comedies several of which are somber works. The ballets are, to a large extent, part of the comic text.
Except for The Imaginary Invalid (1673), the music of Molière’s comédies-ballets was composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully, born Giovanni Battista Lulli. Pierre Beauchamp (30 October 1631 – February 1705) was Molière’s choreographer.
All three, Molière (playwright), Lully (composer and dancer) and Pierre Beauchamp (choreographer), are major figures in their respective profession and Molière’s comédie-ballet a significant step in the creation of ballet. Lully was named director of AcadémieRoyale deMusique in 1669 and worked with Philippe Quinault, his librettist. The AcadémieRoyale de Musique developed into the Paris Opéra and the smaller Opéra Garnier. Since 1989, performances have been held at the 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille.
Several ballets de cour and the related comédies-ballets were staged. It would seem that VoltaireLa Princesse de Navarre (1745) is that last comédie-ballet. It was performed to music by Jean-Philippe Rameau (25 September 1683 – 12 September 1764). (See Comédie-ballet, Wikipedia.)
We close with Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, which was not an opera but a turning-point in the history of ballet in the galant style. Specialists were now developing ballet.
Les Fâcheux (The Bores) the first comédie-ballet (1661)
Molière wrote eleven comédies-ballets, the first of which was Les Fâcheux (The Bores), created by Molière and Lully and performed at Vaux-le-Vicomte, Nicolas Fouquet’s magnificent castle. Fouquet invited a newly-crowned king Louis XIV to a lavish feast at Vaux, which took place on 17 August 1661, but Louis grew jealous. We have read that story. Louis XIV used ballets to cultivate the image of the Sun-King. Therefore, to a certain extent, ballet was put into the service of absolutism.
Portrait of Pietro Bembo by Giovanni Bellini (British Royal Collection)
I explored the British Royal Collection and learned that in 1940, it was suggested that the above portrait, by Giovanni Bellini, was a portrait of Pietro Bembo (20 May 1470 – 11 or 18 January 1547). It is a suggestion, which means that there is an element of doubt. The facial features of the Royal Collection’s Pietro Bembo bear a resemblance to Raphael’s portrait, but Raphael’s portrait of Pietro Bembo (c. 1506), shows a dark-haired Pietro Bembo.
I know of Pietro Bembo from my days as a student of musicology. He is associated with the development of polyphony (many voices) through the madrigal (songs in the mother tongue, as in the Spanish madre), secular songs. However, Pietro Bembo was a writer, not a musician.
As the popularity of madrigals waned, Louis XIV, who loved to dance and was a dancer, hired Italian-born Jean-Baptiste Lully, or Giovanni Battista Lulli, a composer and dancer. When Molière returned to Paris after spending several years touring France, his Précieuses ridicules (18 November 1659) impressed the court.
I have yet to order my new computer, but when it arrives, we will again be in Italy briefly. Molière created the comédie-ballet.Les Fâcheux was performed at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Molière wrote the text and Lulli, the music. The ballet accompanying Les Fâcheux (The Bores) was choreographed was Pierre Beauchamp.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on Vaux-le-Vicomte and, in partiular the feast hosted by Nicolas Fouquet on 17 August 1661, perhaps the most lavish fête in the history of France. Louis XIV had just become king of France. Louis was so impressed that during the fête itself, he decided to destroy Fouquet, or Foucquet. The video I used has been removed and I have yet to find a video that matches the former video.
Le Roi danse(Photo credit: Google Images)
Would that Giovanni Bellini had given a name to the persons whose portrait he painted. He entitled many of his portraits as Portrait of a Young Man or Portrait of a Man.
I have a new post, I hope to publish today. It is about ballet. Molière created the comédie-ballet in 1661. He created a total of 11.
With kind regards to all of you.♥
The video shown below is an excerpt from a film entitled Le Roi danse.