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Dratwicki, Benoît – Foreigners at the Académie royale de musique (1774-1789)




"Why is a grand opéra never entrusted to a Frenchman? Why does it always have to be foreigners?" (Mozart, letter to his father, 31 July 1778) These words may come as a surprise. Could the Académie Royale de Musique, the Paris Opéra, claimed to be such a bastion of French culture, really have fallen into the hands of foreigners at that time? Before the reign of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, opera in France had been characterised by a prevailing ultra-nationalism: with the exception of two or three isolated experiments in the early years of the eighteenth century (notably, Scylla by the composer Teobaldo di Gatti), no works by foreign composers were performed there. An ironical situation, considering that it was an Italian, Giambattista Lulli, who had not only ‘invented’ French opera in 1673, but had also taken the Académie Royale de Musique to the heights of perfection that made it a strong contender for the prime position among Europe’s opera stages. But he had taken French nationality, changed the spelling of his name, and received ennoblement from Louis XIV, thus ruling over French opera as Jean-Baptiste de Lully, without any suspicion of disloyalty towards the kingdom of France.

From the CD-Book Renaud d'Antonio Sacchini (Palazzetto Bru Zane, collection Opéra français, 2013). Translation: Mary Pardoe.

    Persons - 6
  • GLUCK, Christoph Willibald (1714-1787)
  • PAISIELLO, Giovanni (1740-1816)
  • PICCINNI, Niccolò (1728-1800)
  • SACCHINI, Antonio (1730-1786)
  • SALIERI, Antonio (1750-1825)
  • VOGEL, Johann Christoph (1756-1788)
  • Work - 1
  • Renaud (Le Bœuf / Sacchini)
  • Theme - 1
  • Institution – Opéra de Paris