French Opera and Its Italian Influences

France has always maintained a highly operatic tradition since Jean Baptiste Lully, an Italian, set foot into the country. While it is true that Italian opera maintained a strong influence on French Opera, the French variety of this form of composition maintained the much-valued principles of classical French drama.

The linguistic traditions of French Opera have always remained a strong force in Europe due to their strong influence. Lully, the Italian was a boy when he came into France. His leading positions as a lead singer enabled him improve his skills as well as build his opera performance career. French Tragedie Lyrique that was composed as a result of this collaboration had five acts, borrowed heavily from earlier forms which the average Frenchman understood very well. Lully soon became a very influential force and soon dominated music in French theatres. An element of dance play was introduced in most of the plays that were played here.

Opera comique.

Opera comique.

OpÈra Comique was a form of opera that developed from highly popular scenes of ways of life during the18th century. One of the best known venues of this type of operas was the Paris Fair Theaters. Existing tunes helped form lyrical compositions that quickly became popular throughout France. Many traveling companies made up of players from Italy made important opera performances in France.

With time, music that was combined with speech became more and more popular. This firm was more acceptable to highly educated members of the French society. Social philosophers such as Rousseau and writers like Favart are known to have contributed to the simplistic view of French opera as they resorted to simple countryside life so as to develop their plots. Their contribution is however often highly idealized.

The late 1750s witnessed a bitter conflict between those who favored Italian styles and those who were in support of traditional French styles. This, though, was a mere revival of an earlier row that had taken place a hundred years previously. Some ambitious company owners had introduced a series of Italian intermezzos which were lighthearted and which made the company really successful. Conservative Frenchmen were not impressed.

Gluck’s opera changed during the years that culminated to the French Revolution. Serious opera was affected in obvious ways. This kind of opera became widely associated with the monarchy and made Gluck turn towards performances that displayed more realism. Grand Opera emerged in the 1820s. This type of opera showed greater pretensions. The work of Meyerbeer made these operas reach a point of the highest grandeur. Opera comique continued to portray the way of life of the wealthier class as the 19th century came to a close.

[ad#downcont]Opera Bouffe was an opera genre that emerged in the second half of the 19th century. Offenbach Jacque is the man to whom this type of opera is attributed to. It had a lighter style than opera comique. The 20th century came with a change of opera comique into a more serious style. Notable names during this time are Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen.