Natasha M. Roule F'17
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2017
Reviving Lully: Opera and the Negotiation of Absolutism in the French Provinces, 1685-1750
This project explores the history of the first French operas—the tragédies lyriques of Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)—in the French provinces between 1685 and 1750. Scholars typically focus on productions of Lully’s operas in Paris or at court, where the operas premiered. Provincial productions of Lully’s operas, however, offer a crucial perspective on a period of unprecedented expansion of royal authority over France and the ascendance of Paris as the French cultural capital. This project argues that provincial productions of Lully’s operas voiced tension and compromise between regional identity and royal absolutist ideology. An analysis of scores, libretti, and contemporary criticism of the productions reveals a thriving practice among artists of affirming or subverting the operas’ frequent allusions to Louis XIV through musical and textual adaptations or satire. An epilogue studies modern revivals of Lully’s operas to reflect further on the repertoire’s adaptability to the identities and ideologies of performers.