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Monstrous Opera:
Rameau and the Tragic Tradition
Charles Dill

Paperback | 2014 | $30.95 | £25.95 | ISBN: 9780691604145
Hardcover | 2016 | $77.50 | £64.95 | ISBN: 9780691633336
220 pp. | 6 x 9 | 22 music examples
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One of the foremost composers of the French Baroque operatic tradition, Rameau is often cited for his struggle to steer lyric tragedy away from its strict Lullian form, inspired by spoken tragedy, and toward a more expressive musical style. In this fresh exploration of Rameau's compositional aesthetic, Charles Dill depicts a much more complicated figure: one obsessed with tradition, music theory, his own creative instincts, and the public's expectations of his music. Dill examines the ways Rameau mediated among these often competing values and how he interacted with his critics and with the public. The result is a sophisticated rethinking of Rameau as a musical innovator.

In his compositions, Rameau tried to highlight music's potential for dramatic meanings. But his listeners, who understood lyric tragedy to be a poetic rather than musical genre, were generally frustrated by these attempts. In fact, some described Rameau's music as monstrous--using an image of deformity to represent the failure of reason and communication. Dill shows how Rameau answered his critics with rational, theoretical arguments about the role of music in lyric tragedy. At the same time, however, the composer sought to placate his audiences by substantially revising his musical texts in later performances, sometimes abandoning his most creative ideas.

Monstrous Opera illuminates the complexity of Rameau's vision, revealing not only the tensions within the music but also the conflicting desires that drove the man--himself caricatured by his contemporaries as a monster.

Originally published in 1998.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Abbreviations xvii
Chapter 1. Monstrous Opera 3
Chapter 2. Different Tragedies 31
Chapter 3. Rameau's Twins 57
Chapter 4. Rameau Mise-en-Scene 106
Chapter 5. In the Mirror 135
Notes 153
Sources Cited 183
Index 195


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File created: 7/11/2017

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