Houses & Companies | Opéra-Comique | Early Romantic | Opera
The Opéra-Comique company was established in 1714 to offer French opera as an alternative to the Italian opera that dominated the continent at the time. After several misadventures, which included a bankruptcy, the Opéra-Comique settled at the Salle Feydeau in 1805. Here, its essentially radical approach to opera soon became clear.
At this time, composers such as Méhul, François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834) and Nicolo Isouard (1775–1818) were pioneering a new genre, the opéra comique, which was not yet acceptable to the rather hidebound Paris Opéra. The Opéra-Comique, by contrast, gladly embraced the genre and its early practitioners, and its stage was the scene of sensational premieres that became the talk of Paris opera-goers all season long. The Opéra-Comique, which moved to the Salle Favart in 1840, continued in the same vein, featuring unconventional, new or foreign works that were turned down by the more conservative management of the Paris Opéra. Unlike its rival, where spoken dialogue on stage was banned, the Opéra-Comique made itself a home for works that used this technique and included in its repertory operas by the ‘new wave’ of composers such as Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782–1871), Adolphe Adam (1803–56) and, much later, Jules Massenet (1842–1912).
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