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Le répertoire de l’Opéra de Paris (1671-2009)

 | 
Michel Noiray
, 
Solveig Serre

Quatrième partie. Créativité de la mise en scène

Ballet at the Opéra: frequency of performance, scene types shared with opera

Marian Smith

Résumé

Ballets strong presence at the Paris Opéra since the foundation of that institution in the seventeenth century has long been recognized. Yet we still have much to learn about even the most basic features of ballets vital role there. Toward that end, I pose two simple questions. First, how often was ballet performed at the Opéra? The answer: at least 75% (and probably more) of new works performed at the Opéra from 1774-1876 entailed dancing, and more than 95% of performances at the Opéra during the same period included both singing and dancing. Second, what scene types were shared by independent ballet and opera? Here, I restrict my findings to 1830-1848, and focus on four scene types: feminine scenes (the most often-performed of which, the bathing scene in Les Huguenots, was likely inspired by earlier such scenes in ballets and opera-ballets), bail scenes (more often cropping up in ballets and operas after the great success of Gustave III, 1833), insider-view ballet scenes (e.g., backstage scenes featuring ballerinas warming up, rehearsing, or meeting with male admirers), and procession scenes (including processions of soldiers, crusaders, pilgrims, wedding parties, hunters, and so on). Clearly, opera and ballet librettists were influenced by one another.

Texte intégral

1Ballet’s strong presence at the Paris Opéra since the foundation of that institution in 1672 has long been recognized. Yet we still have much to learn about even the most basic features of ballets vital role there. How often was ballet performed at the Opéra? How did dancing, posing, forming groups and gesturing (salient elements of ballet) blend with singing? To what extent did singers engage in actions we now associate with ballet? How may we characterize the complicated relationship between music and gesture as it evolved through the centuries? When – if ever – did ballet lose its standing as a sine qua non of opera at this institution? With the advent of the independent dramatic ballet at the Opéra in 1776, did ballets role in opera change? What scene types were shared by independent ballet and opera, and what can this tell us about the Opéra audience’s tastes?

  • 1 Rebecca Harris-Warrick has made many important contributions in this regard, including e.g., «Magn (...)

2In this short study, alas, I cannot tackle ail of these questions. Instead I shall confine myself to the first and the last, aiming to reveal bits of the Opéra’s multimedia repertorial landscape over both long and short stretches of time. My hope is to show that ballet has played an extremely meaningful part, in multifarious ways, at the Opéra over the long life of the institution, and that by taking ballet into account we have much to gain in our understanding of not only ballet itself, but of the Opéra, the operas performed there, and the audience that took them in1.

I. — HOW OFTEN WAS BALLET PERFORMED AT THE OPERA?

  • 2 These include Théodore de Lajarte, Bibliothèque musicale du Théâtre de l’Opéra. Catalogue historiq (...)
  • 3 The beginning date (1774) is that of the first of Lajarte s seven periods for which Chronopéra dat (...)

3Here, I shall point out a few statistics (as gleaned from Chronopéra and an array of other sources)2. First, a large number – at least 75% – of the new Works produced at the Opéra during the one-hundred-odd years from 1774-1876 entailed dancing (see the appendix, annexes I and II)3. And during the same period, more than 95% of performances (I suspect it was closer to 100%) given at the Opéra included both singing and dancing (see annexe III). Exceptions to the rule were rare indeed and included, most notably perhaps, the Paganini concerts of 1831, which were called «représentation extraordinaire» in the Journal de l’Opéra and in several cases paired with a ballet (see annexe IV).

  • 4 The difficulty arises because Lajarte s catalogue of sources, which for ail its imperfections indi (...)

4Though it is harder in the post-1876 years to discern how many performances included both singing and dancing4, it can be established that between 1876 and 1909 roughly 14% of all performances at the opera were made up of opera/ballet double bills. This is not to say, of course, that dancing was excluded from the stage on nights when only an opera was performed, since operas so often included internal ballets (see annexe V). Indeed, I would imagine that the very high rate of performances including both ballet and opera continued till the end of the nineteenth century and beyond, though I cannot yet prove it.

II. — SHARED SCENE TYPES, 1830-1848

5Turning now to a shorter-term focus I shall point out the existence of four scene types which appeared in both ballets and operas during the July Monarchy (1830-1848)-a much-celebrated period known to musicologists as the age of French Grand Opera and to ballet historians as the Golden Age of French Romantic ballet. These are Feminine Scenes, Bail Scenes, Insider-view Ballet scenes, and Procession Scenes.

1. Feminine scenes

  • 5 On Orientalist painting, see, for example, Linda Nochlin, The Politics of Vision, New York, 1989, (...)

6I define «Feminine Scenes» as those featuring all (or nearly ail) female characters attending to such private activities as perfuming their hair, draping fabrics around themselves, regarding themselves in the mirror, and bathing or otherwise making their toilet. These scenes served a variety of functions, among them to delight male spectators, and to reinforce – in many cases – orientalist local color. Consider, for example, La Tentation, wherein the hapless hermit Antoine is deposited, by demons hell-bent on leading him into temptation, within the walls of a magnificent harem near a beach in the Orient – an interior scene whose set design as described in the libretto calls upon the senses of sight, smell and touch, and is reminiscent of Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus (1827-1828) in its Oriental voluptuousness and luxury5:

Tout autour du harem un large divan, et, au-dessus, une galerie à jour descend à gauche par un riche escalier. Au milieu, une vasque dont les jets d’eau rafraîchissent l’air. À droite, au premier plan, le boudoir mystérieux où le sultan d’Iconium, Alaëdan, reçoit ses favorites: il est fermé par une portière brillante d’or et de pierres précieuses. Rien de plus riant que l’aspect de ce harem, orné avec tout le luxe oriental.

7The action of this scene (Act IV, sc. 1), unfolds beguilingly as follows:

Validé, la reine des odalisques, Guilleïaz, Amidé et Léïla, favorites du sultan, sont aux bains dans une salle voisine. Là, des esclaves leur versent des parfums et tressent leurs cheveux.

À la porte de la salle des bains, sont assises Effémi, la bien-aimée du sérail, et Héléna, qui de pécheresse était devenue dévote, et qui de dévote est redevenue pécheresse. Elles sont entourées de plusieurs autres femmes d’Alaëdan, qui prennent des sorbets ou fument, selon l’usage d’Orient.

Pendant que des eunuques passent, portant du tabac et du café dans l’appartement du sultan, Effémi et Héléna, pour désennuyer les odalisques aux bains, mêlent des paroles de volupté à une musique suave et vaporeuse.

  • 6 Jean Coraly [Coralli] and (not credited in livret) Edmond Cavé, La Tentation, Paris, 1832, p. 46-4 (...)

le chœur des odalisques
Amour, amour, des mêmes flammes
Brûle nos cœurs ;
Ta puissance a fait de nos âmes
De tendres sœurs.
effémi
O mes blanches amies,
D’un monarque chéries,
À grands frais réunies,
Pour bercer son ennui,
Partageons sa tendresse ;
Mais, par une autre ivresse,
Charmons notre jeunesse
En aimant loin de lui.
le chœur
Amour, amour, des mêmes flammes, etc.6

8The next year, 1833, saw the première of another work, the ballet La Révolte au sérail (the title was changed from La Révolte des femmes too late for the printed livret to be corrected), with a bathing scene set similarly in a luxurious bath with a door leading to a place of secret pleasures:

Le théâtre représente une salle de bains d’une grande richesse. Au milieu, et sous un kiosque entouré de colonnes légères, est une large baignoire en marbre blanc, de forme circulaire, pouvant contenir douze baigneuses. Deux portes latérales: l’une à droite des spectateurs et qui conduit à l’appartement des femmes; l’autre à gauche et qui communique avec l’intérieur du palais. Au fond, une porte secrète. Derrière le kiosque, une draperie d’or qui ferme l’appartement.

9Here, Zulma, the King of Granada’s reluctant favorite, and her companions frolic in the water and make their toilet:

  • 7 Philippe Taglioni, La Révolte des femmes, Paris, 1833, p. 19-20.

Zulma et ses compagnes sont aux bains et s’amusent à folâtrer dans l’eau; des esclaves brûlent des parfums, d’autres préparent les vêtemens. Zulma sort la première du bain; on l’entoure d’une gaze légère et elle fait sa toilette à l’abri de ce rempart transparent. Bientôt ses compagnes suivent son exemple et s’habillent de même. Dès qu’elle est parée, chaque baigneuse vient se mêler aux danses qui animent la scène et se livre avec abandon à tous les essais capricieux de la coquetterie. Les unes admirent leur beauté dans des glaces mobiles; les autres, par leurs poses variées, forment de gracieux tableaux au milieu desquels brille surtout la jolie Zulma; enfin rien ne leur manque plus pour séduire; leur toilette est achevée7.

10Three years later, in 1836, came Les Huguenots, with its Act II bathing scene taking place not in the «Orient» but in the gardens of sixteenth century Chenonceaux. It provided a diverting, pleasant and feminine counterbalance to the horrific male-centered violence to come. The curtain opened this delightful scene in the Loire valley:

  • 8 Eugène Scribe, Les Huguenots, Paris, n.d., p. 75.

Le théâtre représente le château et les jardins de Chenonceaux, à trois lieues d’Amboise. Le château de Chenonceaux est bâti sur un pont (en perspective). Le fleuve serpente en lignes courbes jusque sur le milieu du théâtre, disparaissant de temps en temps derrière des touffes d’arbres verts. À droite, un large escalier en pierre par lequel on descend du château dans les jardins. – Au lever du rideau, Marguerite est entourée de ses femmes; elle vient d’achever sa toilette, et Urbain, son page, à genoux devant elle, tient encore le miroir dans lequel elle vient de se regarder8.

11Marguerite sweetly sings the Air «Ô beau pays de la Touraine», and then, after intoning this invocation:

Que Luther ou Calvin ensanglantent la terre
De leurs débats religieux;
Des ministres du ciel que la morale austère
Nous épouvante au nom des cieux.

12she joins her Dame d’honneur and Urbain, the page, in the famous light-hearted soprano trio «Sombre chimère»:

  • 9 Giacomo Meyerbeer, Les Huguenots, Paris, n.d. ; repr. New York/London, 1980, t. I, p. 233-236.

Sombre chimère,
Humeur sévère,
N’approchez guère
De notre cour;
Sous mon servage
On ne s’engage
Qu’à rendre hommage
Au Dieu d’amour9.

13Then, during the next number, the «Chœur des Baigneuses (dansé)», the young ladies before entering the water dance, play, run after each other and form different groups while the Queen watches with a smile, nonchalantly stretched out on a green bank:

  • 10 Ibid., p. 260.

toutes les jeunes filles (du ballet) s’occupent de leur toilette de bain. Plusieurs sont déjà prêtes et paraissent en peignoirs de gaze, et avant de se plonger dans l’eau dansent, jouent, courent les unes après les autres et forment différents groupes. Divertissement que la Reine, pendant qu’elle fait sa toilette, contemple en souriant, nonchalamment étendue sur un banc de verdure. D’autres jeunes filles ont disparu derrière les touffes d’arbres du fond et on les voit un instant après se baigner dans le Cher qui forme sur le théâtre différentes sinuosités10.

  • 11 Debra H. Sowell, «Contextualizing Madge’s scarf: the pas de schall as romantic convention», in La (...)

14The pas de schall or «shawl dance» was another popular feminine scene type, calling for women to dance with shawls, scarves, or lengths of fabric, and like the bathing scene it made a voyeuristic appeal, implying as it did that the spectator was seeing women dressing, or undressing, or something akin to it11. All such dances during the period in question featured non-European or non-mortal female characters. The first is found in act one of the opera-ballet Le Dieu et la Bayadère (1830); here the chief eunuch presents a treasure chest in which an eager group of bayadères finds beautiful shawls:

  • 12 Eugène Scribe, Le Dieu et la Bayadère, Paris, 1830, p. 15.

Toutes les bayadères se disputent les schals que renferment les coffres, se les arrachent, les drapent autour d’elles, et forment avec Zoloé [Marie Taglioni] qu’elles en entourent différens tableaux12.

  • 13 N. R., «Chronique – Académie royale de musique», in La Revue de Paris, 1834, nouvelle série, t. 2, (...)

15To much acclaim Marie Taglioni performed a new pas de schall with Pauline Leroux in Cherubini’s opera Ali-Baba three years later in 1833, and though the opera proved a failure, the ballerinas reprised the pas de schall in the bail scene of Gustave III at least once13.

16The majority of Feminine Scenes were placed within ballets at the Opéra during the period in question – not surprising, given the higher femininity levels of ballet – but such scenes were also included in two operas, and indeed the most-performed of ail was the Act II bathing scene in Les Huguenots, which followed closely on the heels of Feminine Scenes of the early 1830s in ballets and opera-ballets and clearly capitalized on their popularity (see annexe VI).

2. Insider-view ballet scenes

17Similarly, I would suggest, did the Insider-View Ballet Scene appear in more ballets than operas, but find its most frequent performances in an opera: Gustave III, ou le Bal masqué (1833; see annexe VII). This sort of scene played into the Opéra spectators’ fascination with ballet in general and-in some cases-the ballerina in particular. Several such scenes appear in a single ballet, the popular Le Diable boiteux (1836), in which an alchemist magically grants an eager young scholar entry to the foyer de la danse at the Madrid Opera, where a rehearsal is taking place and ballerinas are greeted by their gentleman friends. Later the young scholar enters the dressing room of an attractive Madrid Opera ballerina, Florinda, by magically gliding through a wall. Later still, after the alchemist lifts the roof of Florinda’s house by using supernatural powers, the young scholar secretly looks in from above as she performs the cachucha for admirers in her drawing room.

18Another alluring opera-house ballerina, Diana – this time, from La Fenice – appears in a party scene and bail scene set in Venice in the ballet La Jolie Fille de Gand (1842). Diana, a «maligne danseuse» and a rival of the ballets heroine, Beatrix, arrives with her Spanish lover at a gathering in a boudoir in the palace of the Marquis de San Lucar, where she flirts with Beatrix’s lover, quarrels violently with another danseuse over another man, and begs to be invited to a bal (taking place the next scene), where she wins further admiration from Beatrix’s lover by dancing at the head of a troupe of female entertainers dressed as nymphs.

19An opera house and its danseuse inhabitants had earlier figured in the ballet Manon Lescaut (1830), set at the end of the reign of Louis XV. Here, the first stage-set depicted the gardens of the Palais-Royal, complété with «une porte sur laquelle on lit: Passage conduisant à l’Opéra; aux deux côtés de cette porte deux larges affiches de spectacle» presumably advertising a work by Rameau. The title character is soon thereafter dazzled by a performance at the Opéra, a set of entrées from a work of Rameau, and in the next act is taken by the Marquis to his elegant salon, where she is offered a dancing lesson by the very stars she had seen on the stage: Mlle Camargo and Mlle Petit-Pas, who try in vain to teach Manon a graceful minuet.

  • 14 See Ivor Guest, The Romantic Ballet in Paris, 2nd edition, London, 1980, p. 252-253.

20A burgeoning awareness of historical dance in the 1830s and its manifestation on the stage of the Opéra (a subject ripe for scholarly study14) is also reflected in an insider-view ballet scene in Gustave III (1833), Act I, which depicts the Swedish monarch overseeing a rehearsal of a ballet, despite the attempts of his minister of Justice, Ankastrom, to talk business. Set in 1792, this scene (like that in Act I of Manon Lescaut) depicts the old practice of presenting successive «entrées»:

21ankastrom

Et sauver son pays...
Comme vous, sire...

22gustave, l’interrompant, et s’adressant au maître des ballets:

Allons, commençons, je vous prie.
(Le maître des ballets prend les ordres du roi et la répétition commence au milieu du salon. Paraît d’abord un acteur représentant Wasa; il est en costume de paysan dalécarlien: poursuivi et accablé de fatigue, il peut à peine se soutenir. Des valets de pied ont apporté de la salle de l’Opéra un banc de gazon. Wasa s’y asseoit et s’endort; une musique harmonieuse se fait entendre, des songes heureux viennent entourer Wasa et lui montrent le Génie de la Suède qui lui apparaît et lui promet la victoire. Le roi se lève et fait au maître de ballets des observations sur la manière dont les groupes sont formés; il demande d’autres poses, d’autres pas que l’on exécute. Les songes disparaissent, et les jeunes danseuses qui les représentaient viennent recevoir les complimens du roi et des seigneurs qui l’entourent.
– Deuxième entrée: une musique joyeuse annonçant une noce dalécarlienne: à ce bruit Wasa se réveille; les paysans et paysannes lui offrent l’hospitalité et le font asseoir à leur table; il accepte: l’on danse. Pendant ce temps le roi a expliqué aux seigneurs qui l’entourent les différentes scènes du ballet.
– Troisième entrée. Les ouvriers qui travaillent aux mines arrivent, et l’un d’eux reconnaît Wasa; il le montre à ses compagnons qui tombent à ses pieds et jurent de le prendre pour chef, de le défendre, et de le suivre. Ankastrom et les seigneurs de la cour applaudissent. En ce moment paraît au milieu du salon le ministre de la justice tenant à la main plusieurs ordres à signer. À sa vue, le roi se lève, interrompt la répétition et fait signe au maître des ballets et aux acteurs de se retirer.)

  • 15 On the foyer de la danse, see, for instance, Louise Robin-Challan, Danse et danseuses à l’Opéra de (...)

23Note that here, too, the king and the seigneurs interact with and compliment the danseuses, bringing to the stage a whiff of the alluring culture of the foyer de la danse that was well known to thrive behind the scenes at the Opéra of 183015.

3. The ball scene

  • 16 On the masked bail in Paris, see Marian Smith, «Bail scenes in context», in the programme book for(...)

24Gustave III, ou le Bal masqué is best known for its wildly popular Act V bail scene, the success of which surely led to the abundance of bail scenes in subsequent works created at the Opéra over the next two decades (see annexe VIII). Indeed, bail scenes were given 536 times between the première of Gustave and the end of the period in question here, 1830-1848, i.e., in about 18% of all performances (15 3 of these were the bail scene of Act V of Gustave III, an act which was detached from the rest of the opera and shown on mixed bills on as many as 60 evenings during the period in question)16.

25Aside from the obvious visual and dramatic attractions of the bail scene – colorful and striking costumes, a festive atmosphère, mystery and intrigue invited by the custom of masking – the enormous popularity of the real-life public bals, some of which took place in the Opéra ho use itself, helps account for the receptivity of the Opéra’s audiences to bal scenes on stage. For any Parisian who could afford the price of theater and bal tickets at the Opéra could view a staged bail scene one night and return the next night in costume, as a participant. Thus did the staged bail scene hold the simple and deep attraction of potential immediacy.

  • 17 On one occasion Dolores Serrai, Mariano Camprubi, Manuela Dubinon and Francisco Font were hired to (...)
  • 18 On the Hungarians in Don Giovanni, see Journal des débats, 17 March 1834. On the Petites viennoise (...)

26Real-life bals, moreover, featured internal entertainments for the costumed and be-dominoed revelers, who stood aside to watch the hired performers who might be, for example, mirlitons, Indian dancers, Spanish dancers, or ballet dancers performing divertissements with such titles as «The Four Seasons», the «Four Nations» and «The Four Corners of the World». This custom was mirrored in the staged bail scenes and it likewise provided a convenient vehicle for bringing guest acts to the stage to complement the usual ballet divertissements furnished by the Opéra’s dancers17. A traveling troupe of Hungarian dancers, for instance, performed in the bail scene of Don Giovanni; the Petites Viennoises (36 little girls famous for their précision dancing, under the direction of one Frau Joséphine Weiss) appeared in the bail scene of La Jolie Fille de Gand18.

27Such diversions did not keep bail scenes of this period at the Opéra, however, from moving the plot forward by depicting conflict amongst the characters, though none so violently as did the Gustave bail scene, which of course entails the assassination of the title character. In Le Diable boiteux, for instance, our young scholar meets three enticing young disguised ladies at a masked bail-setting up the action of the ballet-and then disguises himself as a female after being threatened by male rivais. In L’Étoile de Séville the seigneurs speculate about what is troubling the king. In La Fille du Danube the heroine (a water nymph, as it turns out) runs to the balcony and throws herself into limpid waters of the Danube as the horrified onlookers react. Though some bail scenes lacked conflict and served as happy celebrations bringing a ballet to a close, the festive atmosphere of the bal did afford a set-up for dramatic irony that often proved irresistible to the librettist.

4. Processions

  • 19 On the processions in La Juive and Dom Sébastien, see Cormac Newark, «Celebration, ceremony and sp (...)

28Processions, too, appeared often in both ballets and operas of the 1830-1850 period, and two of them remain famous today – the imperial procession of La Juive and the coronation march in Le Prophète19. Yet many other processions (some less dazzling, to be sure) contributed significantly to ballets and operas during this period at the Opéra. Often going unmentioned in modern-day plot synopses and not reliably indicated in nineteenth-century printed scores either, processions are sometimes easier to detect in press reviews, livrets, staging manuals, and annotated violin rehearsal scores. Having compiled a list of processions performed at the Opéra from 1828 (La Muette de Portici) to 1849 (Le Prophète), without claiming it to be comprehensive, I have concluded that the procession is by far the most frequently appearing of ail the scene types I mention here, turning up in some form (magnificent or otherwise) in no fewer than twenty-six ballets and operas staged at the Opéra during this period, and in approximately 70% of performances given there between 1828 and 1850-1 believe these numbers are even higher but I have not yet examined ail of the evidence.

29What accounts for the high incidence of the procession on the Opéra’s stage during this period? First, like the bal, the procession figured prominently in Parisian life of the period and thus held the advantage of sheer familiarity. Second, by dint of its inherent theatricality – it already carried some ritual meaning, and often entailed the wearing of costumes or other signifying articles of clothing – it was easily transferable to the stage. Third, whatever idea or Affekt was needed could be projected easily and instantaneously by a procession (lugubriousness, magnificence, power, might, triumph) and dramatic irony came readily as well. Indeed many a conflict or personal struggle was thrown into relief by a procession on the Opéras stage and individual characters’ reactions to it. Eléazar in La Juive, for instance, watches the imperial procession of Act I with disdain; James in La Sylphide is undone by seeing the wedding processions of his beloved at the end of the ballet; Marcel in Les Huguenots refuses to doff his hat to the procession of Catholic bridesmaids conducting Valentine to the chapel and singing «Ave Maria». And so on.

  • 20 See, e.g., Ségolène Le Men and Luce Abélès, Les Français peints par eux-mêmes, Paris, 1993, and Ma (...)

30Processions were also good for sorting out identifies by displaying various types of people in meaningful sequence. The staged type – and sometimes the real-life processions as well – even came complete with explanations in printed programs, and costumes showing plainly who was who. The taxonomic explicitness of the staged procession, I would submit, served the same palliative purpose as published physiologies, and indeed of the carefully delineated character types at the Opéra (as Anselm Gerhard has told us): to temper the anxiety suffered by Parisians in the wake of the arrival of so many new types of people in their city from the countryside and abroad20. Here, for example, is the type-by-type description of the procession in La Juive as given in the livret:

  • 21 Eugène Scribe, La Juive, Paris, 1835, p. 53. A more elaborate version of this cortège may be found (...)

Le cortège défile dans l’ordre suivant: les sonneurs de trompe de l’empereur, les porte-bannières et les arbalétriers de la ville de Constance, les maîtres des différents métiers et confréries; les échevins, les archers de l’empereur, puis les hommes d’armes, les hérauts, les sonneurs du cardinal, ses hallebardiers, ses bannières et celles du Saint-Siège; les membres du concile, leurs pages et leurs clercs; le cardinal, à cheval, avec ses pages et ses gentilshommes; les hallebardiers de l’empire, puis enfin l’empereur Sigismond, à cheval, précédé de ses pages, entouré de ses gentilshommes, de ses écuyers, et suivi des princes de l’empire21.

  • 22 For lists of settings and character types at the Opéra ca. 1830-1848, see Marian Smith, Ballet and (...)
  • 23 On historicism and the nineteenth century opéra, see Sarah Hibberd, French Grand Opéra and the His (...)

31This is not to say, of course, that characters of the types seen on the Opéra’s stage-fifteenth century imperial hallebardiers, seventeenth century Italian desperadoes, Roman gladiators, Albanian cabin-boys, Swiss goat-herds, etc.22-were thronging the streets of Paris, but that a broad array of types could prove itself comfortingly manageable on the Opéra’s stage, not least when paraded by in the form of a procession23.

  • 24 As Mary Ann Smart points out, «bureaucrats who controlled the Opéra and journalists alike assumed (...)
  • 25 On processions and their meaning, see, e.g., Georges Duby, «Préface», in Michèle Boudignon-Hamon, (...)

32Finally, it must be noted that the visual impact of a procession is not to be underestimated. The procession was clearly meaningful for reasons extending beyond mere watchability (which could be considerable) even when it did not explicitly move the plot forward with words, or with specific deeds like the portentously disdainful behavior of Marcel and Eléazar24. Current-day plot synopses often overlook processions (as noted above) because their power lay mainly in their appearance; they were not action-oriented. And current-day productions tend to downplay or eliminate them-with good reason, perhaps, since the semiotic power of these scenes has necessarily faded along with the social context that gave rise to them in the first place. The sheer sight of a procession, however, did communicate a great deal in the Street and on the stage during the July Monarchy in matters large and small: it could evoke joyful or melancholy memories, instill pride, terrify; it could reinforce the social hierarchy; it could advertise the piety of a religious order or the mightiness of the military25.

33The foregoing examination of scene types shared by opera and ballet at the Opera reveals noteworthy trends and tastes useful for the understanding of the Opéra, its repertory, and its audience during the two-decade period in question. This, taken together with the statistics I have compiled in regard to multi-media performances and mixed bills over longer stretches of rime – which show, among other things, that ballet could be seen at the Opéra nearly every night the house was open during the one hundred and three years period studied (1774-1876) – is intended to explore a few ramifications on concrete terms of something we have long known: that ballet mattered at the Opéra.

34It remains to be seen what future scholarship will bring. But the broad, bird’s-eye view of the Opéra of the sort that Chronopéra invites – one that allows us to see values and tastes as they are manifested in both the well-remembered and forgotten parts of the repertory – holds much promise. I hope that this rudimentary study will beckon scholars to take the interdisciplinary and chronological leaps necessary to gain more insight about ballet and its place at the Opéra.

Annexes

ANNEXE

I. — LAJARTE’S PERIODIZATION

1re période: 1671-1797 («époque de Lully»)

2e période: 1697-1733 («époque de Campra»)

3e période: 1733-1774 («époque de Rameau»)

4e période: 1774-1807 («époque de Gluck»)

5e période: 1807-1826 («époque de Spontini»)

6e période: 1826-1849 («époque moderne» I)

7e période: 1849-1876 («époque moderne» II)

II — INDICATIONS FOR BALLET/DANCE IN NEW WORKS AT THE OPÉRA, 1774-1876

4e période, 1774-1807:

– 88 new Works with indications for ballet/dance (77%);

– 17 new works without indications for ballet/dance (23%).

5e période, 1807-1826:

– 62 new works with indications for ballet/dance (95%);

– 3 new works without indications for ballet/dance (5%).

6e période, 1826-1849:

– 67 new works with indications for ballet/dance (82%);

– 15 new works without indications for ballet/dance (18%).

7e période, 1849-1876:

– 49 new works with indications for ballet/dance (75%);

– 16 new works without indications for ballet/dance (25%).

III. — PERCENTAGE OF PERFORMANCES FEATURING BOTH SINGING AND DANCING, 1774-1876

4e période, 1774-1807: 97

5e période, 1807-1826: 99

6e période, 1826-1849: 99

7e période, 1849-1876: 99

IV. — PAGANINI CONCERTS, 1831-1832

Events entitled «Concert» were also given on the 20th and 27th of April, according to the Journal de l’Opéra. Note that in some cases a count is kept of the Paganini concerts, in keeping with the Opéra’s longstanding custom of counting performances of ballets and operas.

1831:

– 9 mars, «Représentation extraordinaire: Concert Paganini, Le Carnaval de Venise (162)»;

– 13 mars, «Représentation extraordinaire: Concert Paganini, Les Pages [du duc de Vendôme] (65)»;

– 20 mars, «Concert Paganini, Le Carnaval de Venise (163)»;

– 23 mars, «Concert Paganini, Flore et Zéphire (4)»;

– 27 mars, «Concert Paganini, Les Pages (66)»;

– 1 avril, «Concert Paganini 6e»;

– 3 avril, «Concert Paginini 7e»;

– 8 avril, «Concert Paganini 8e, Les Pages (67)»;

– 15 avril, «Concert Paganini 9e, Flore et Zéphire (6)»;

– 17 avril, «Concert Paganini – au profit des pauvres de Paris»;

– 24 avril, «Concert Paganini, Flore et Zéphire (7)».

1832:

– 30 avril, «Concert Paganini, La Somnambule (83)»;

– 4 mai, «Concert Paganini, Manon Lescaut (44)»;

– 7 mai, «Concert Paganini, Les Pages»;

– 14 mai «Concert Paganini, La Belle au bois dormant (57)»;

– 21 mai, «Concert Paganini, La Somnambule (85)»;

– 25 mai, «Concert Paganini, La Somnambule (86)»;

– 1 juin, «Concert Paganini, L’Orgie (30)».

V. — PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL PERFORMANCES WITH MIXED OPERA/BALLET BILLS, BY CALENDER YEAR, 1876-1902

1876: 11%

1877: 14%

1878:-26

1879: 15%

1880: 18%

1881: 16%

1882: 17%

1883: 14%

1884: 16%

1885: 17%

1886: 11%

1887: 13%

1888: 8%

1889: 14%

1890: 18%

1891: 11%

1892: 12%

1893: 20%

1894: 19%

1895: 15%

1896: 18%

1897: 14%

1898: 13%

1899: 14%

1900: 17%

1901: 12%

1902: 8%

Note that ballet was often (if not always) included in single-bill opera performances

New operas and ballets created between 1876 and 1899:

– Ballets: 13;

– Operas: ca. 44 (many of these operas included ballets).

VI. — WORKS AT THE OPÉRA FEATURING «FEMININE SCENES», 1830-1848

Title of work/number of performances, 1830-1848

Toilette scenes (* includes bathing):

1832, La Tentation* (opera-ballet) / 103;

1833, La Révolte an sérail* (ballet) / 50;

1836, Les Huguenots* (opera) / 193;

1838, La Volière (ballet) / 3;

1843, La Péri (ballet) / 70;

1847, Ozaï (ballet) / 10.

Pas de schall scenes:

1830, Le Dieu et la Bayadère (opera-ballet) / 137;

1832, La Sylphide (ballet) / 111;

1833, Ali-Baba (opéra) / 11.

VII. — WORKS AT THE OPÉRA FEATURING INSIDER-VIEW SCENES WITH DANSEUSES

Title of work / number of performances, 1830-1848

1830, Manon Lescaut (ballet)/46;

1833, Gustave III (opera)/ca. 83 (Some portion of this opera was presented 153 times during this period, but about 60 of those likely consisted solely of Act V, skipping Act I with its insider-view scene.);

1836, Le Diable boiteux (ballet) / 65;

1842, La Jolie Fille de Gand (ballet) / 60.

VIII. — WORKS AT THE OPÉRA FEATURING BALL SCENES

Title of work / number of performances, 1830-1848

1833 Gustave III (opéra) Act V / 153;

1834 Don Giovanni (opéra) Act II / 59;

1836 Le Diable boiteux (ballet) Act I / 65;

1836 La Fille du Danube (ballet) Act I / 36;

1836 La Esmeralda (opera) Act II / 25 (Only fragments of this opera were presented at many performances; it is unclear how many featured the ball scene.);

1842 La Jolie Fille de Gand (ballet) Act II / 60;

1845 Le Diable à quatre (ballet) Act II / 65;

1845 L’Étoile de Séville (opéra) Act III / 15;

1846 Paquita (ballet) Act II / 31;

1846 Betty (ballet) Act II / 17;

1847 Ozaï (ballet) Act II / 10.

Not all of these balls are masked balls. Note, further, that this list does not include, for instance, the bal champêtre, the general outdoor festival with dancing, the Wilis’ «bal fantastique» in Giselle, nor the short-lived wedding bal in Les Huguenots.

IX. — WORKS AT THE OPÉRA FEATURING PROCESSIONS, CA. 1828-1849

Title of work / number of performances, 1828-1850

– Wedding processions:

1828, La Muette de Portici (opéra) / 300;

1831, L’Orgie (ballet) / 31;

1832, La Sylphide (ballet) / 111;

1836, Les Huguenots (procession of Catholic bridesmaids) (opéra) / 205;

1838, Guido et Ginèvre (opéra) / 45;

1840, Le Diable amoureux (ballet) / 51;

1841, La Reine de Chypre (opéra) / 84;

1842, La Jolie Fille de Gand (ballet) / 60.

– Civic procession:

1828, La Muette de Portici (opéra) / 300.

– Nuns’or monks’processions:

1831, Robert le diable (opéra) / 326;

1840, La Favorite (opéra) / 124.

– Cortège of the Grand Vizir:

1830, Le Dieu et la Bayadère (opera-ballet) / 137.

– Hunting processions:

1829, Guillaume Tell (opéra) / 284;

1832, La Tentation (opera-ballet) / 103;

1841, Giselle (ballet) / 80.

– Impérial processions:

1835, La Juive (opéra) / 189;

1837, La Chatte métamorphosée en femme (ballet) / 14.

– Military processions:

1832, La Tentation (opera-ballet) / 103;

1834, La Tempête (ballet) / 30;

1839, La Tarentule (children imitate soldiers) (ballet) / 28.

– March to the scaffold:

1836, La Esmeralda (opéra) / 25.

– Funeral Processions:

1834, Don Giovanni (Don Juan) (opéra)/43 (this scene takes place in Hell);

1843, Dom Sébastien27 (opéra) / 31.

– March of the Three Kings:

1839, Té* Lac des fées (opéra) / 29.

– Triumphal Procession:

1840, Les Martyrs (opéra) / 20.

– Procession of Crusaders:

1847, Jérusalem (opéra) / 31.

– Coronation march:

1849, Le Prophète (opéra) / 85.

Notes

1 Rebecca Harris-Warrick has made many important contributions in this regard, including e.g., «Magnificence in motion: stage musicians in Lully s ballets and opéras», in Cambridge Opera Journal., t. 6, 1994, p. 189-203. See also her forthcoming Dance as Drama in French Opera from Lully to Rameau.

2 These include Théodore de Lajarte, Bibliothèque musicale du Théâtre de l’Opéra. Catalogue historique, chronologique, anecdotique, Paris, 1878; repr. Hildesheim, 1969 and Ivor Guest’s table of ballets performed at the Opéra 1776-2000, in Ivor Guest, Le Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris. Trois siècles d’histoire et de tradition, Paris, 1976; revised ed. Paris, 2001, p. 297-314, and scores and livrets from the 1830-1850 period.

3 The beginning date (1774) is that of the first of Lajarte s seven periods for which Chronopéra data is now available; the ending date is the last year covered by Lajarte s catalogue of sources (1876).

4 The difficulty arises because Lajarte s catalogue of sources, which for ail its imperfections indicates in many cases what works included ballet, has no successor for the post-1876 era. Pitou s very useful encyclopedia does provide a list of works performed at the Opéra up to 1914, but because it leaves out references to ballets in a few operas which did have them in the pre-1876 era, I believe it may do so for the post-1876 era as well. See Spire Pitou, The Paris Opéra: an Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers, Westport (Conn.), 1983-1990.

5 On Orientalist painting, see, for example, Linda Nochlin, The Politics of Vision, New York, 1989, p. 33-59.

6 Jean Coraly [Coralli] and (not credited in livret) Edmond Cavé, La Tentation, Paris, 1832, p. 46-47.

7 Philippe Taglioni, La Révolte des femmes, Paris, 1833, p. 19-20.

8 Eugène Scribe, Les Huguenots, Paris, n.d., p. 75.

9 Giacomo Meyerbeer, Les Huguenots, Paris, n.d. ; repr. New York/London, 1980, t. I, p. 233-236.

10 Ibid., p. 260.

11 Debra H. Sowell, «Contextualizing Madge’s scarf: the pas de schall as romantic convention», in La Sylphide: Essays on its Performance and History, ed. Marian Smith, forthcoming. See also Sarah Davies Cordova, Paris Dances: Textual Choreogaphies in the Nineteenth-Century French Novel, Bethesda (Md.), 1999, p. 22-23, 31-33.

12 Eugène Scribe, Le Dieu et la Bayadère, Paris, 1830, p. 15.

13 N. R., «Chronique – Académie royale de musique», in La Revue de Paris, 1834, nouvelle série, t. 2, p. 231.

14 See Ivor Guest, The Romantic Ballet in Paris, 2nd edition, London, 1980, p. 252-253.

15 On the foyer de la danse, see, for instance, Louise Robin-Challan, Danse et danseuses à l’Opéra de Paris, 1830-1850, thèse de troisième cycle, history, université Paris-VII, 1983, and Martine Kahane, Le Foyer de la danse, exhibition catalogue, Les Dossiers du Musée d’Orsay, t. 22, 1988.

16 On the masked bail in Paris, see Marian Smith, «Bail scenes in context», in the programme book for Cinderella (Ashton, Prokofiev) at the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 1996/1997 season, and Stéphanie Schroedters forthcoming major study of the topic, Paris qui danse. Bewegungs- und Klangräume einer Großstadt des 19. Jahrhunderts.

17 On one occasion Dolores Serrai, Mariano Camprubi, Manuela Dubinon and Francisco Font were hired to appear both in La Muette de Portici (in the Spanish divertissement, not in a bail scene) and in real-life bail entertainments at the Opéra. See Lisa C. Arkin and Marian Smith, «National dance in the romantic ballet», in Rethinking the Sylph, ed. Lynn Garafola, Hanover/London, 1997, p. 19.

18 On the Hungarians in Don Giovanni, see Journal des débats, 17 March 1834. On the Petites viennoises, see I. Guest, The Romantic Ballet in Paris..., p. 240-242. This group appeared no fewer than twenty-eight times at the Opéra from January to March 1845. In the Journal de l’Opéra, and thus in Chronopéra, they are called «Les Danseuses».

19 On the processions in La Juive and Dom Sébastien, see Cormac Newark, «Celebration, ceremony and spectacle in La Juive » and Mary Ann Smart, «Mourning the duc d’Orléans: Donizetti’s Dom Sébastien and the political meanings of opéra», in Reading Critics Reading, ed. Roger Parker and Mary Ann Smart, Oxford, 2001, p. 155-187 and p. 188-214 respectively.

20 See, e.g., Ségolène Le Men and Luce Abélès, Les Français peints par eux-mêmes, Paris, 1993, and Martina Lauster, Sketches of the Nineteenth Century: European Journalism and its Physiologies, 1830-1850, Basingstoke, 2007.

21 Eugène Scribe, La Juive, Paris, 1835, p. 53. A more elaborate version of this cortège may be found in the livret de mise en scène published after 1865 by Louis Palianti, repr. in The Original Staging Manuals for Tivelve Parisian Operatic Premières/Douze livrets de mise en scène lyrique datant des créations parisiennes, ed. H. Robert Cohen and Marie-Odile Gigou, Stuyvesant (NY), 1991, p. 141. On the dating of this livret de mise en scène, see Arnold Jacobshagen, «Analyzing mise-en-scène: Halévy’s La Juive at the Salle Le Peletier», in Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer, Paris 1830-1914, ed. Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist, Chicago, 2009, p. 176-194.

22 For lists of settings and character types at the Opéra ca. 1830-1848, see Marian Smith, Ballet and Opera in the Age ofGiselle, Princeton, 2000, p. 22-24 and 47-49.

23 On historicism and the nineteenth century opéra, see Sarah Hibberd, French Grand Opéra and the Historical Imagination, Cambridge, 2009, Mark Pottinger, The Staging ofHistory in France: The Characterization of Historical Figures in French Grand Opéra during the Reign of Louis-Philippe, Berlin, and my «Processions at the nineteenth century Opéra», in Bewegungen zwischen Hôren und Sehen: Musik, Tanz, Theater, Performance und Film, ed. Stephanie Schroedter (forthcoming).

24 As Mary Ann Smart points out, «bureaucrats who controlled the Opéra and journalists alike assumed that audiences would filter the stage spectacle through first-hand expérience, not through the more abstract process of reading plots as metaphors for the current political situation. It was perhaps this element of identification with the stage spectacle that had provoked the Commission spéciale already in 1843 to warn about the funeral scene» in Dom Sébastien that «à l’avenir il conviendrait d’éviter l’imitation trop exacte de ces cérémonies, dans lesquelles chaque spectateur peut retrouver le souvenir d’un malheur particulier, quelquefois même celui d’une calamité publique». Letter from the Commission spéciale to the minister of the Interior, 17 Dec. 1843, AN, F21 1069, cited by Mary Ann Smart in «Mourning the duc d’Orléans... », p. 210.

25 On processions and their meaning, see, e.g., Georges Duby, «Préface», in Michèle Boudignon-Hamon, Jacqueline Demoinet and Jacques Verroust, Fêtes en France, Paris, 1977, p. 6-16; Une histoire à soi: figurations du passsé et localités, dir. Alban Bensa and Daniel Fabre, Paris, 2001; Stéphane Gerson, The Pride of Place, Ithaca, 2003.

26 Entries in Chronopéra from 29 June 1878 to 2 July 1879 have not yet appeared.

27 The funeral procession was replaced by a coronation scene when Dom Sébastien was revived in Paris in 1849. See Mary Ann Smart, «Mourning the Duc d’Orléans... », p. 196.

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University of Oregon

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