Voltaire et l’opéra : ses livrets, adaptations opératiques de ses tragédies

Albert Gier


Voltaire wrote seven librettos, but only two minor texts were set to music by Rameau. – His tragedies do not have tragic heroes (in the Aristotelian sense), they present paragons of virtue and vice. In some of his tragédies larmoyantes (Ridgway), the villains triumph at the end (cf. Mahomet); in others, virtue is rewarded and evil punished (cf. Sémiramis). Therefore, Voltaire’s tragedies anticipate some features of the romantic melodrama. This may be the reason why they inspired librettists and composers of (Italian and French) opera mainly in the decades between 1780 and 1810 when French melodrama was created by Guilbert de Pixérécourt and others. – As examples for the technique of adaptation, the librettos of Tancredi (Rossini), Maometto (von Winter), and Semiramide (Rossini) are analysed in greater detail.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15203/ATeM_2016.06


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