Houses & Companies | The Lullistes v. the Ramistes | Late Baroque | Opera

The extended polemic between Lullistes and Ramistes was provoked by the former group’s disgust for the Italianate elements in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, and their arising concern that the repertoire and tradition established by Lully was under threat. In contrast, Rameau’s supporters championed his innovative music that included more elaborate solo songs and increasingly complex use of the orchestra. One venomous Lulliste complained that he was racked, flayed and dislocated by Rameau’s Les indes galantes.

Similar divisions between opposing opera-loving factions were common during the eighteenth century, and Handel and the ‘Opera of the Nobility’ had distinct camps of supporters in London during the mid-1730s. However, Parisian opera audiences took such matters to unusually passionate extremes. The derogatory attitude towards Rameau’s pioneering work extended to jealous composers, librettists and disgruntled performers at the Paris Opéra, and at one point Rameau was involved in a physical brawl with one of his main detractors, after which friends advised him to stop wearing a sword. Each new Rameau opera during the 1730s intensified the feelings of both sides, but Rameau had considerable support when 1,000 Ramistes pledged to support every performance of Dardanus. They did not quite live up to that pledge, but afterwards the Lulliste dissent diminished.

Houses & Companies | Guerre des Bouffons | Classical Era | Opera
Houses & Companies | Paris Opéra | High Romantic | Opera


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