Tragédie en musique  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Tragédie en musique (French lyric tragedy), also known as tragédie lyrique, is a genre of French opera introduced by Jean-Baptiste Lully and used by his followers until the second half of the eighteenth century. Operas in this genre are usually based on stories from Classical mythology or the Italian romantic epics of Tasso and Ariosto. The stories may not have a tragic ending - in fact, they generally don't - but the atmosphere must be noble and elevated. The standard tragédie en musique has five acts. Earlier works in the genre were preceded by an allegorical prologue and, during the lifetime of Louis XIV, these generally celebrated the king's noble qualities and his prowess in war. Each of the five acts usually follows a basic pattern, opening with an aria in which one of the main characters expresses their feelings, followed by dialogue in recitative interspersed with short arias (petits airs), in which the main business of the plot occurs. Each act traditionally ends with a divertissement, offering great opportunities for the chorus and the ballet troupe. Composers sometimes changed the order of these features in an act for dramatic reasons.


Notable examples of the genre

Apart from Lully, the most considerable writer of tragédies en musique is Rameau, whose five works in the form are considered the culminating masterpieces of the genre. The Viking Opera Guide refers to Marc-Antoine Charpentier's tragédie Médée as "arguably the finest French opera of the seventeenth century". In the eighteenth century, Jean-Marie Leclair's lone tragédie Scylla et Glaucus has been similarly praised. Other highly esteemed exponents are André Campra (Tancrède, Idoménée), Marin Marais (Alcyone) and Michel Pignolet de Montéclair (Jephté).

List of works in this genre

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Works by Lully's sons

Pascal Collasse

Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Henri Desmarets

Marin Marais

Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

Charles-Hubert Gervais

André Cardinal Destouches

André Campra

Jean-Féry Rebel

François Bouvard

Louis de La Coste

Toussaint Bertin de la Doué

Joseph François Salomon

Jean-Baptiste Matho

Jean-Joseph Mouret

François Francoeur and François Rebel

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer

Michel Pignolet de Montéclair

Jean-Philippe Rameau

Charles-Louis Mion

François Colin de Blamont

Jean-Marie Leclair

Marquis de Brassac

Antoine Dauvergne

Jean-Joseph de Mondonville

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tragédie en musique" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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