Les comedies-ballets de Moliere: genre de transition
Godfrey, Karen Mary
Wadsworth, Philip A.
Master of Arts
The purpose of this thesis is to explore the influence of the ballet de cour on the comedies-ballets of Moliere and to show how the comedies-ballets not only perfected the dramatic elements of this previous form, but transformed them completely to create a new genre which eventually evolved towards the French Opera. The ballet de cour was an attempt to fuse the arts of Music, Dance, Poetry, and Painting into a dramatic form in order to recreate on the earth the celestial music of the spheres, thereby establishing peace and harmonie. In time, this original serious intention was forgotten, and the ballet de cour became a rather comical, loosely-united court spectacle whose main purpose was to please and flatter the nobility. However, if the ballet de cour did have more serious intentions, it took the form of social and political satire. Due to the great popularity of the spectacle, all of the leading artists, such as Benserade, Luny, and Corneille, at one time or another during the course of their careers, were commissioned to compose a ballet de cour, and Moliere was no exception. The great playwright, however, was led, by circumstances and by his own particular genius, to combine a comedie and a ballet de cour. The result was a new genre which unified the elements of the two forms into a cohesive whole. Not all of the comedies-ballets exhibit the same amount of cohesion and evenness, but others such as les Facheux, le Mariage force, l'Amour medecin, la Pastorale comique, le Sicilien, and le Bourgeois gentilhomme, achieve a fine cohesion. What is interesting to follow is the changing roles of the ballet and music in the comedies-ballets. Moliere began by placing the greatest amount of emphasis on the ballet, and he ended by shifting the importance to the music in his plays. His plays, then, are a transition piece from the ballet de cour to the French Opera.