Making connections: thoughts on Lully's entr'actes.
The five acts of the 17th-century French tragedy or comedy were short by modern standards, generally taking no more than half an hour each. Brief intermissions thus occurred frequently, and the custom of filling them with music was a normal part of spoken drama as well as opera: each Parisian theatre employed a small number of instrumentalists(2) whose primary responsibility was to play music during the intervals between acts.(3) Since the convention of lowering a curtain between acts did not yet exist, activities such as changing the scenery or moving the props took place in full view of the audience, as did such housekeeping chores as adjusting candles and oil lamps.(4) Thus, by playing during the entr'actes, theatre musicians provided background music for preparatory activities that stood outside the drama itself but were visible to the audience.
But the custom of connecting the acts of a tragedy with music also reflected an aspect of the drama itself - in a symbolic, non-programmatic way, that is. The conventions of the period, conventions that had hardened into rules by the middle of the 17th century, required playwrights to separate one act from another by an implied action. While scenes within an act had to be elided, so that the stage was virtually never left empty of characters during the course of an act - which meant, in effect, that the uninterrupted succession of events on the stage represented an uninterrupted succession of events in the story - acts could not be elided. The action at the end of one act was forbidden to lead directly into the action at the beginning of the next: there had to be implied action between the acts, invisible to the audience but necessary to the plot. In 1787 Marmontel described the entr'acte as a moment of repose for the audience but not for the story.(5) A great many acts in 17th-and 18th-century French plays begin as though the audience were coming in on the middle of a conversation: the very first utterance in the act might be (for instance) |Quoi?' or |Qui, Madame'. It is understood that the conversation began between the acts, in some location where the audience could not hear it. Of course, the requirement of separation of acts was also a convenience for playwrights, since it helped them to follow various other rules: for instance, murders and other horrid deeds that were not allowed on stage could happen by implication between the acts. Furthermore, while the events of any individual act happened in |real time,' rather than telescoped theatrical time, time between the acts could be expanded or contracted: the entr'acte might represent a few minutes or a few hours - just so long as the whole play observed unity of time, usually by occurring within the span of a single day.
In a purely symbolic way, then, the bit of music that connected two intentionally disconnected passages of speech represented dramatic activity while it filled physical silence. The job was apparently not always handled as smoothly as one might wish: in 1674 Samuel Chappuzeau recommended that the musicians learn the last two lines of each act, so that they would be able to start the entr'actes without waiting for somebody to yell |Jouez!(6) Of course, it is unlikely that operatic entr'actes would have been handled that clumsily, and, indeed, Lully sometimes took special care to make smooth musical connections between the entr'acte and its surroundings. Ex.1 shows Lully inserting a brief modulatory descent in the bass line between an entr'acte and the beginning of the act that follows. Presumably when he had composed the imitative opening of Act 4 of Amadis, he had overlooked its slightly awkward tonal connection to the key that ends Act 3, so he borrowed his favourite modulatory device for elision of scenes and used it to make a smooth connection between acts.(7)
In a sense the operatic entr'acte was simply a close relative of the one in spoken drama. The number and brevity of acts was the same in a tragedie en musique as in a spoken tragedy; the curtain remained up throughout the piece; and since Lully's librettist, Philippe Quinault, observed the rules of elision of scenes and separation of acts, the general symbolic effect of an entr'acte was similar. In some ways, however, the operatic entr'acte was quite different from the one in a spoken tragedy.
In an ordinary spoken tragedy or comedy, props were few, scenery (shown on painted backdrops) was modest, and visual changes between acts were minimal. In all likelihood the audience spent the few minutes between acts chatting with each other, despite the offerings of the little musical ensemble and the possibility of watching people push chairs around on stage. As Cahusac wrote in 1755, |The entr'acte at the Comedie-Francaise is composed of a few violin airs that people barely listen to.'(8) For a machine play, on the other hand - or an opera, which was a special type of machine play - lavish and frequently changing spectacle was one of the principal goals of the entertainment. The entr'actes in such a spectacular piece were apparently exciting, and part of the excitement was their extreme brevity: not only did the scenery change, but it changed instantaneously. Pierre Corneille's description of his machine tragedy Andromede, first performed in 1650, emphasizes not only the elaborate visual effects created by Giacomo Torelli's machinery but also the speed with which the scene changed in full view of the audience. At the end of the prologue, for instance, |That great mass of mountains and those crags rising one on top of the other to compose it, having vanished in a twinkling due to a marvellous device, leave visible in their place the capital city of Cephee's realm, or rather the public square of that city.' Or, at the beginning of Act 2, |The public square that the Queen and Persee have just left disappears in an instant, giving way to a delectable garden...'(9)
The Paris Opera used an elaborate system of machine-controlled flats, bearings and friezes to change the scenery, to the great delight of audiences.(10) The orchestra played without interruption while the scenery changed: |This continuity of spectacle favours illusion, and without illusion there is no charm in a musical spectacle.'(11) If one may judge by the typical length of Lully's entr'actes, a complete scenic transformation usually occurred in less than two minutes. Presumably the opera audience spent this very brief intermission not chatting but watching the scenery change - and unless their murmurs of astonishment and delight were too loud, they heard the entr'acte.(12)
By their frequent scenic transformations, machine plays and operas obviously violate the rule of unity of place. Unity of place was a somewhat controversial rule that had not been mentioned at all by Aristotle and had made its appearance in French theory (by way of Italy) only around 1630.(13) At first it was merely an outgrowth of unity of time: the characters could travel but no farther than would be possible within the 24-hour limits of the play. Eventually, however, the rule restricted the action literally to one specific limited setting throughout an entire play. This is not the place to discuss the various ways in which the rule was interpreted, handled and broken in spoken tragedy of 17th-century France;(14) let us merely observe that in its strictest form at the height of French classicism (which happened to coincide with the period of Lully's operas), the rule of unity of place existed not because theorists imposed it on playwrights but because it lent itself to the extreme compression that is at the heart of the classical aesthetic ideal. This compression is beautifully evoked in a commentary by Jean Girardoux on Racine's tragedy Andromaque: |The characters hate each other as a result of loving those who reject them, and on this stage with three doors, each cannot enter or leave without encountering another who flees from him or looks for him, without irritating ... one who disdains him. Despite themselves they hear each other cry, breathe, pant, like ferocious tigers imprisoned for a few hours, in a cage, each of whom knows, before evening, that his exasperating passion must devour the one who is its object or consume him himself.'(15)
The abbe d'Aubignac, whose Pratique du theatre of 1657 became a bible of classical French dramaturgy, was fanatical enough to want to apply unity of place to the machine tragedy, a goal he proposed to accomplish by keeping the |place' constant while changing its appearance. He gave as an example a palace at the seashore abandoned to poor country folk: a prince has a shipwreck there and richly decorates it; then a fire destroys it, allowing us to see the ocean, where ships engage in battle. |So that with five scenic transformations unity of place would be ingeniously kept.(16) The idea is, of course, absurd. As Corneille wrote in his prefatory' |Argument' for Andromede, the principal goal of a machine play is |to satisfy the eyes by the brilliance and diversity of the spectacle, not to touch the spirit by the force of logic, or the heart by the delicacy of passion'.(17) Those of us whose hearts have been touched by Lully's tragedies might not wish to apply Corneille's entire remark to opera, but the essential point is indisputable: the technique of compression has nothing to do with the aesthetic goals of opera. Most aestheticians recognized this distinction among genres. Menestrier wrote in 1681 that opera need not follow the laws of comedy or those of tragedy.(18) Perrault, in his essay on Lully's Alceste, wrote in 1674 that comedy was restricted to natural or ordinary events; opera and machine pieces were restricted to supernatural and extraordinary events; and tragedy was somewhere in the middle. As a result, he concluded, |nothing is more inappropriate in an ordinary piece than the transformation of scenes, and nothing is more beautiful in a machine piece than the same transformation, not only from one place to another on earth but from earth to heaven and heaven to hell'.(19) In 1715 the abbe Terrasson stated the matter most succinctly of all: |The miraculous or supernatural element that reigns in all opera authorizes the transformation of scenes, since machines can transport the actors from one end of the earth to the other in a moment.'(20) We should note his use of the verb autoriser: scenic transformation was acceptable in this genre, but it had to be justified.
The entr'acte connecting Acts 3 and 4 of Lully's Isis typifies the genre.(21) Jealous Juno, wishing to punish the nymph loved by her husband Jupiter, calls on a Fury to show the nymph |the horror of one hundred different climates.' At the end of Act 3 the Fury emerges from hell and abducts the nymph; the final line of text of the act, set as recitative in C major, is sung by |Io, pursued by the Fury': |Oh, gods! To what have you driven me?' Thanks to the supernatural capabilities of the Fury, the setting changes during the entr'acte music - a reprise of an oboe trio in C major, first heard earlier in Act 3 - from a lake in the middle of a forest to |the iciest place in Scythia'. Lully's librettist, Quinault, has followed the rule of separation of acts by starting Act 4 with dancing and singing by |peoples from the frozen climates' (G major), saving the reappearance of lo and the Fury for the next scene; and just as a playwright might have had us come in during dialogue in progress at the beginning of Act 4, so the librettist has us go out during a supernatural journey in progress at the end of Act 3.
In the entr'acte connecting Acts 2 and 3 of Roland, the journey is shorter. Angelique, queen of Cathay, and her lover Medor, while standing at |the enchanted Fountain of Love, in the middle of a forest', decide to sail away and get married. At the end of Act 2 they set out, apparently on foot, for a seaport somewhere in Cathay. The purpose of this example is to illustrate the direct juxtaposition of an entr'acte with a divertissement: the final scene of Act 2 is a typical Lullian ballet scene, one of those static tableaux in which recurring pieces and patterns of scoring are used to create a more-or-less symmetrical design. The chorus consists of troupes of Cupids, Sirens, gods of the waters, nymphs, sylvans and enchanted lovers; the stage direction after the opening chorus reads, |The enchanted lovers dance around Medor and Angelique.' All pieces are in A minor:
Chorus, |Aimez, aimez-vous'
Gavotte (marked |lentement')
Brief duet for two enchanted lovers
Reprise of gavotte
Second dance air (untitled minuet)
Chorus, |Que pour jamais'
Reprise of second dance air
Reprise of chorus, |Que pour jamais'
Act 3 is set at |a seaport' and begins, in A major, with a conversation between Angelique's confidant and Medor.
As Act 2 ends, the supernatural beings guide the humans toward their destination: |The enchanted lovers, dancing, accompany Medor and Angelique; Cupid and the troupe of Cupids fly, and serve as their guides.' It is not entirely clear whether the dancing lovers and flying Cupids in Lully's production would have led Angelique and Medor off stage during the final chorus (which, in any case, would probably have been danced)(22) or during the entr'acte itself; it is clear, however, that Lully regarded the entr'acte - the gavotte from the divertissement, which has already been heard twice - not as an extension of the pastoral ballet scene but as something separate, despite its obvious musical associations with the love festival that has just concluded. Lully's instructions in the printed score read, |the second dance air and the chorus that follows are done again to finish [the divertissement and the act]. The gavotte serves as entr'acte.'(23)
As the preceding examples illustrate, Lully's operatic entr'actes involved musical recall: they were thus capable of a level of symbolism not available to the musical entr'actes in a spoken play. On occasion Lully exploited this feature for dramatic effect. Act 2 of Thesee is set in a public area of a palace, where one can see doors leading to various private apartments. In the middle of the act a march entitled |Premier air pour l'entree triomphante de Thesee'announces the appearance of the young hero, who has just led the king's army to victory. He is surrounded by the people of Athens, who rejoice during the ensuing divertissement. After the celebrations end, Thesee encounters the princess magician Medee, who is in love with him without his knowledge. Their conversation reveals that Thesee loves someone else. Left alone, Medee concludes the act with her powerful monologue air, |Dipit mortel', in which she abandons herself to the evil behaviour of jealous spite. For the entr'acte Lully selected Thesee's triumphal entry march, which the audience had heard only a few minutes earlier under memorable circumstances. (|Depit mortel' is in C major, the entr'acte is in A minor, and Act 3 begins in F major.) Thesee's image in Medee's eyes has changed to something less than heroic by the end of the act - in the air she refers to him as an |ingrate' - and surely Lully intended the irony implied by this reference to the earlier event.(24)
It is worth noting that there is no change of setting during that entr'acte: the conversations that begin Act 3, though separated from those of Act 2 by an unspecified (but brief) time and involving different characters, take place in the same palace location. Early in Act 3, however, Medee arrives to confront and punish her rival, at which point she magically changes the setting to a frightful desert.
Usually the musical references are more subtle. In the passage from Isis described above, the oboe trio recalls a march that had been heard during a |play-within-a-play' enactment of the Pan and Syrinx story. After a chorus of nymphs insists on the value of freedom (|Liberte, liberte'), a troupe of shepherds and sylvans try to convince Syrinx to give up her freedom and fall in love with Pan. While Syrinx's flight from Pan paranels Io's flight from Jupiter, Io's abduction by the Fury at the end of the act makes no direct reference to that parallel.
Indeed, most of Lully's entr'actes simply recall generic dance pieces from generic divertissements. the references are entirely appropriate but involve little irony or other special dramatic effect. Thus, for instance, after the people of Damascus vow to seek revenge against Armide's enemy (Armide, entr'acte following Act 1) we are reminded of a march associated with their earlier celebration of her beauty and glorious exploits. Still, the mere fact that Lully's entr'actes recall events rather than prefigure them, and that these events are most often found in the act just completed, indicates that Lully considered such references a fundamental feature of the genre.(25) In a sense it is an odd feature: while implied action and visible changes of scenery move the story forward, the music looks backward. Odd or not, the procedure was adopted by Lully's followers. Not until the 1744 version of Dardanus did Rameau experiment with music composed especially for the implied action of an entr'acte.(26)
Lully had still other concerns as he selected entr'actes, concerns that are evident in his last-moment revision of an entr'acte from Armide. Illus2.a, taken from the score printed by Ballard under Lully's direction,(27) shows the last page of Act 2 in its final state. Illus.2b shows the foot of that page only, as it was originally sent to the printer. Lully originally planned the entr'acte to be a reprise of an untitled dance air in G major, indicated by a verbal cue, but in the course of printing, the presses were stopped so that an entree grave in A minor could be substituted. In addition to changing the cue for the entr'acte itself, Lully added a continuo figure to the final chord of Act 2 (at the word l'univers), thus introducing a Picardy 3rd that would accommodate the altered key plan.
Act 2 is set in |a countryside, where a river forms a pleasant island'. At the end of the act Armide has just fallen in love with Renaud, her enemy whom she had intended to kill. In the little air shown in illus.2a (|Venez, secondez mes desirs' in E minor), she asks the demons to transform themseives into pleasant zephyrs and carry her and Renaud to a far-away desert where she will be able to hide her weakness and shame. Act 3, set in the desert, begins in D minor. Jerome de La Gorce has discovered a drawing by Jean Berain of the machine used in an early production (illus.3): demons under the guise of zephyrs are enveloped in billowing grey clouds, which conceal a ladder; Armide and Renaud would have mounted the hidden ladder; then this contraption, with them visible in it, would have risen up and out of view.(28) Since Armide is singing alone at the end of Act 2, she surely waited until the entr'acte to climb the ladder. This operation, along with the business of spectacularly transforming the lush setting into a desert, might have required a bit more time than that afforded by the G major entr'acte. The revised entr'acte is indeed twice the length of the rejected one - 100 bars as opposed to 48.
The G major entr'acte was taken from the Act 2 divertissement, as one would expect it to be. In that location it was a dance for demons disguised at Armide's request, not as zephyrs but as nymphs and shepherds who enchain the sleeping Renaud with garlands of flowers (ex.2). To find the A minor piece, on the other hand, Lully reached all the way back into the prologue (ex-3). The dramatic situation there, a celebration of Louis XIV's glory and wisdom, is quite irrelevant to the one at the end of Act 2.(29)
In making the change shown in the two states of the printed score, Lully did
more than lengthen this entr'acte; he also changed it from a relatively light, serene piece for pastoral muted strings to a more serious item in which variations in melodic motion, phrase length and texture are used in a way that creates a level of tonal tension commensurate with greater length and with the dignified character of the entree grave genre.(30) The changed character of this entr'acte must be considered in light of its context. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, never a Lully lover, referred contemptuously to the binary form song shown in illus.2a as |that little tavern air' that follows Armide's great monologue (|Enfin il est en ma puissance', E minor).(31) It would be fairer to use a word like |peroration'; Lully clearly meant that the level of tension should wind down during this song and its prelude. Act 3, however, begins with yet another great dramatic monologue for Armide, one of those large-scale ternary-form airs that Lully reserved for troubled protagonists, this one having orchestral accompaniment (|Ah! si la liberte', D minor). Even if length was indeed Lully's primary concern in revising the entr'acte (by no means a certainty), perhaps a secondary concern was the level of tension he wanted to maintain during the emotional bridge between the two acts, Armide's supernatural trip to the desert.(31)
In a number of ways Lully's entr'actes are musically and dramatically integral parts of his operas: they represent and accompany supernatural action and spectacular changes of scenery; they recall dramatic events; and they form a musical and emotional bridge between two settings and situations. The omission of entr'actes from some modern editions and recordings is unfortunate. In one case - that of Alceste - Henry Prunieres omitted entr'actes from his edition, and Jean-Claude Malgoire omitted them from his 1974 recording, because they apparently survive in no 17th-century source. But it is inconceivable that Alceste was ever performed without entr'actes. Surely the ones in the engraved score of 1708, an edition prepared by one of Lully's sons, ought to be placed in a modern edition of that opera.(33) For without any entr'actes at all, a Lullian opera is incomplete.
(1) The prologue ends with instructions to repeat the overture. (2) In 1673 the King reduced the number of musicians allowed in French theatres. (He did so in response to a request from Lully, whose target was Moliere.) Formerly each theatre had been allowed six |musiciens' and 12 |violons ou joueurs d'instrument'; now each was allowed a maximum of two |voix' and six |violons ou joueurs d'instrument'. The text of the royal decree is quoted in H. Schneider, |Dokumente zur franzosischen Oper von 1659 bis 1699', Quellentexte zur Konzeption der europaischen Oper im 17. Jahrhundert, ed. H. Becker (Kassel, 1981), p.127. (3) This practice was of course not limited to France. Its ancestor was the |invisible' intermedio of Renaissance Italy, the kind with audible music but empty stage: see N. Pirrotta and E. Povoledo, Music and theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi, trans. K. Eales (Cambridge, 1982), pp.47-8. The English equivalent of the French entr'acte was the |act tune': see C. Price, Music in the Restoration theatre (Ann Arbor, MI, 1979), pp.52-61. (4) Regarding the oil lamps, see J. Scherer, La dramaturgie classique en France (Paris, 1973), p.150. In 1787 J.-F. Marmontel (Elements de litterature, quoted in Scherer, p.174) expressed a wish that the curtain would go down between acts: he complained that illusion was destroyed when one had to watch the stage-hands arranging the benches of the Roman senate. (5) Elements de litterature, quoted in Scherer, La dramaturgie classique, p.209. For a full discussion of the rules of separation of acts and elision of scenes, see Scherer, pp.266-84, 206-13. As Scherer demonstrates, the application of the rules could be subtle: for instance, the |action' separating two acts might be nothing more than the replacement of one set of characters by another. (6) S. Chappuzeau, Le theatre francois (Lyon, 1674), ed. Monval (Paris, 1875), p.147. (7) Information on Amadis here and below (n. 25) is based on the edition by H. Prunieres, in J.-B. Lully, Oeuvres completes, Les Opera, iii (Paris, 1939/R1966). (8) L. de Cahusac, |Entr'acte', Encyclopedie, ou Dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts et des metiers, ed. D. Diderot and J. le R. d'Alembert, v (Paris, 1755/R1966), p.727. (9) Dessein de la tragedie d'Andromede, representee sur le theatre royal de Bourbon; contenant l'ordre des scenes, la description des theatres et des machines, et les paroles qui se chantent en musique (Rouen, 1650). The same descriptions appear in the various editions of the play itself (first edition: Rouen, 1651). (10) Deux siecles d'opera francais, exposition catalogue, Bibliotheque Nationale, Musee de l'Opera (Paris, 1972), pp.47-9; J. de La Gorce, L'opera sous le regne de Louis XIV: le merveilleux ou les puissances surnaturelles: 1671-1715' (These de doctorat de 3eme cycle, College de France, 1978), i, pp.100-102. (11) Cahusac, |Entr'acte'. (12) The audience's willingness to pay attention for three hours without an extended break suggests an informal atmosphere, like that of other Baroque opera houses (and of the modern cinema). One traveller who visited Paris in 1678-9 reported not only |admirable machines and scenic transformations' but also stalls where one could buy such refreshments as oranges, lemonade and sherbet. Quoted in W. Braun, |Lully und die franzosische Musik im Spiegel der Reisebeschreibungen', Jean-Baptiste Lully: Actes du colloque/Kongressbericht: Saint-Germain-en-Laye - Heidelberg 1987, ed. J. de La Gorce and H. Schneider (Laaber, 1990), p.274. (13) See editor's introduction to J. Mairet, La Sophonisbe, ed. C, Dedeyan (Paris, 1945), pp.xii-xvi, regarding Mairet's famous 1631 preface to Sylvanire (performed in 1630), where Mairet advocated writing a pastorale using the rules practised in Italy. Unity of place was apparently invented by L. Castelvetro, in Poetica d'Aristotele vulgarizzata et sposta (Vienna, 1570): see B. Weinberg, A history of literary criticism in the Italian Renaissance (Chicago, 1961), pp.508-10 et passim. (14) See Scherer, La dramaturgie classique, pp.123-4, 181-95. (15) Quoted by H. Peyre, in Le classicisme francais (New York, 1942), p.101. (16) F. Hedelin, abbe d' Aubignac, La pratique du theatre (Paris, 1657), livr. iii, chap.vi, pp.100-101, quoted in Scherer, La dramaturgie classique, p.190 (my trans.). Trans. as The whole art of the stage (London, 1684/ R1968), p.101. (17) P. Corneille, Oeuvres, nouvelle ed., ed. C. Marty-Laveaux (Paris, n.d.), v. p.298. (18) C.F. Menestrier, Des representations en musique anciennes et modernes (Paris, 1681), quoted in Schneider, |Dokumente zur franzosischen Oper', p.148-9. (19) C. or P. Perrault, Critique de l'Opera, ou Examen de la tragedie intitulee Alceste, ou le Triomphe d' Alcide (1674), quoted in Schneider, |Dokumente zur franzosischen Oper', p.134. (20) Abbd J. Terrasson, Dissertation critique sur I'Iliade d'Homere (Paris, 1715), i, p.208. (21) Information based on the score of Isis published by J.-B.-C. Ballard (Paris, 1719). All examples that follow rely on librettos in Recueil general des opera, representez par l'Aacademie royale de musique depuis son etablissement, i-iii (Paris, 1703/R1971). (22) L. Rosow, |Performing a choral dialogue by Lully', Early music, xv (1987), pp.330-31. (23) |On reprend le second Air une fois, & le Choeur, qui suit pour finir. La Gavotte sert d'entr'Acte.' J.-B. Lully, Roland (Paris, 1685), p.128. The score, published by C. Ballard, was prepared under the composer's direction. (24) J.-B. Lully, Thesee (Paris, 1688); this was the first of Lully's operas to be published posthumously by Ballard. (25) On the occasions when an entr'acte comes from a prologue or an earlier act of the tragedy than the one just completed, Lully's purpose generally seems to be not some sort of long-range dramatic reference but merely a search for a piece of appropriate length, appropriate key, and no overtly inappropriate programmatic reference. See, for instance, Amadis, after Act 2, or the example from Armide presented below. This does not preclude useful dramatic reference, of course; for instance, the entr'acte after Act 4 of Amadis, borrowed from Act 3, might have been chosen for its key but certainly refers to an appropriate dramatic situation (a defeat of Arcalaus and Arcabonne). (26) The Dardanus example is a |bruit de guerre' between Acts 4 and 5. For other special entr'actes, see C. Girdlestone, Jean-Philippe Rameau: his life and work, rev. edn (New York, 1969), p.268, n.1. (27) J.-B. Lully, Armide (Paris, 1686), p.106. Illus.2a is taken from the copy in Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Ut. vok. mus. i. tr. 835; illus.2b from that in Stockholm, Kungliga Musikaliska Akademiens Bibliotek, Sacks saml. (28) Paris, Archives nationales, [O.sup.1*] 3240, f.73, ink and watercolour; reproduced and described in J. de La Gorce, Torquato Tasso, exposition catalogue, Castello Estense, Ferrara (Bologna, 1985), pp.335-8. See also J. de La Gorce, Berain: dessinateur du Roi Soleil (Paris, 1986), p.157. (29) A pair of violin parts that survive from Lully's production of Armide (Paris, Bibliotheque de l'Opera, Mat.18. [27:182, 185) further complicate the situation. They started out with yet a third piece as an entr'acte between Acts 2 and 3, then were revised by their original scribe to agree with the later state of the print. The rejected entr'acte from the parts is an extremely short gavotte en rondeau from the prologue, in A minor, just 20 bars long. Its extreme brevity makes it an unlikely choice, and suggests that it was simply a mistake. Without going into the complex issue of chronology of source preparation for this opera, I will merely offer the hypothesis that the error resulted from vague written or oral instructions: an imprecise reference to |an A minor dance from the prologue' was meant to indicate the entree grave but was misunderstood to indicate the gavotte. (30) For full scores of both pieces, see R. Eitner's edition in Die Oper von ihren ersten Anfangen bis zur Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts, iii, Publikation aelterer praktischer und theoretischer Musikwerke, xiv (Leipzig, 1885/ R1966), pp.16-l8, 95, or facsimile edition of the printed score of 1686, French Opera in the 17th and 18th Centuries, vi (Pendragon Press, forthcoming), pp.xxvi-xxix, 91-2. Philippe Herreweghe's recording of Armide (Erato, 1983) includes no entr'actes, but both dances may be heard in their original locations. Herreweghe apparently misread the 17th-century repeat signs; these dances are in binary form, but on the recording only the first section of each is repeated. A new recording of Armide, also directed by Herreweghe, is forthcoming from Harmonia Mundi. (31) Lettre sur la musique francoise (1753), in J.-J. Rousseau, Ecrits sur la musique (n.p., 1838/Rl979), p.320. Rousseau's purpose is to compare this scene unfavourably with Italian scenes that culminate in da capo arias. (32) No description of this entr'acte would be complete without the cranky remark of the abbe de Mably, who wanted opera to obey unity of place: |When Armide abandons the enchanted isle of the second act and orders the demons to transport her and her lover to the end of the universe, I am quite surprised to find myself there with them. Verisimilitude is hurt. I am obliged to reason, and reasoning gives a mortal blow to illusion. A poet should rob me of my mind and my judgement, in order to occupy me only with my passions'. G. Bonnot, abbe de Mably, Lettres a madame la marquise de P ... sur l' Opera (Paris, 1741/ R1978), pp.21-2. (33) I am grateful to John Howard of Harvard University for information on the sources of Alceste. The 1708 edition, engraved by H. de Baussen, includes the following entr'actes (page references are to Prunieres's edition in J.-B. Lully, Oeuvres completes, Les Opera, ii): after Act 1, |air rondeau' (i.e. menuet en rondeau) from Act 1 (pp.84-7); after Act 2, march from Act 2 (pp.123-9): after Act 3, |air pour les matelots' from Act 1 (pp.81-2); after Act 4, |second air' from Act 4 (pp.260-62).
Lois Rosow is Associate Professor at the Ohio State University. Her contributions to The new Grove dictionary of opera include the articles on Lully, Quinault and their operas.
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|Title Annotation:||French Baroque 1; Jean-Baptiste Lully|
|Date:||May 1, 1993|
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