Theatre Under Louis Xiv

Overview

This book explores the fascinating phenomenon of cross-casting and related gender issues in different theatrical genres and different performance contexts during the heyday of French theatre. Although professional acting troupes under Louis XIV were mixed, cross-casting remained an important feature of French court ballet (in which the King himself performed a number of women's roles) and an occasional feature of spoken comedy and tragic opera. Cross-casting also persisted out of necessity in the school drama of ...

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Overview

This book explores the fascinating phenomenon of cross-casting and related gender issues in different theatrical genres and different performance contexts during the heyday of French theatre. Although professional acting troupes under Louis XIV were mixed, cross-casting remained an important feature of French court ballet (in which the King himself performed a number of women's roles) and an occasional feature of spoken comedy and tragic opera. Cross-casting also persisted out of necessity in the school drama of the period. This book fills an important gap in the history of French theatre and provides new insight into wider theoretical questions of gender and theatricality. The inclusion of chapters on ballet and opera (as well as spoken drama) opens up the richness of French theatre under Louis XIV in a way that has not been achieved before.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Prest's Theatre under Louis XIV masterfully studies drama, opera, and ballet under the Sun King. Gender ambiguity on the stage is now in danger of becoming a hackneyed and ideological cavalcade, but Prest rigorously makes it new. Likeaudiences, Prest knows that men and women are biologically different, and her shrewd awareness animates her study. She illuminates Molière, the glory of his age, with authentic insight and deep learning." -Harold Bloom, Yale University

"This is a thoroughly researched, carefully reasoned, and engagingly written study of an important topic. Within the familiar context of the spoken comic drama, ideas are introduced that carry forward into the progressively less familiar material: first the single-sex school performances, of which we can recapture the dynamics without too great a stretch of the imagination; then the court ballet, which is truly a form alien to the modern reader. The last chapter deals with opera, which in one way is an excursion into even stranger territory, since most of the discussion is set against the background of the castrato - certainly the most extreme form of altering the male performer to project a female character. The study is a timely one and it makes an important contribution to the field." - Roger W. Herzel, Indiana University

'In this innovative and engagingly written study, Prest covers ballet and opera as well as spoken plays. Her range encompasses the history, principles and practices of religious school performances and court performances as well as those of the commercial theatre. She is a sure guide, and her analysis of comedy, eroticism, sexual ambiguities, and the courtly ideal is outstanding. Prest's impressive knowledge of the original texts, contemporary polemic, and a wide range of modern critical thinking enables her to present insights and discoveries that will change the way we see seventeenth-century performance practice.' - William Brooks, University of Bath"This concise, well-crafted, multifaceted volume offers a refreshingly original approach to performance practices in early modern France. At the end of thisthoroughly researched and illuminating study, Prest explains how French baroque opera, established inopposition to the Italian musical tradition, rejected the most complex figure associated with cross-casting: the castrato." - Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403975188
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia Prest is Assistant Professor of French at Yale University. A graduate in French and Music, she wrote her PhD on Molière's comedy-ballets at the University of Cambridge. Her critical edition of Le Mariage forcé was published in 1999 and she has published articles on comedy-ballet, court ballet, school drama and the court of Louis XIV.

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: Cross-Dressing and Cross-Casting     1
Unattractive Women: Cross-Casting in Comedy     11
Boys Will Be Girls: Cross-Casting in School Drama     43
Female Roles in Court Ballet I: Men Playing Women     77
Female Roles in Court Ballet II: Women Playing Women     103
Cross-Casting and Gender Ambiguity in Opera     129
Conclusion     157
Notes     163
Bibliography     179
Index     191
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