Personalities | Charles Simon Favart | Classical Era | Opera
Charles Favart became director of the Comédie-Italienne in Paris in 1758. His 11-year term as director was evidently important in the theatre’s history, for in 1871 it was renamed Salle Favart. As a librettist, Favart’s output was prodigious: he wrote 150 libretti for composers such as Gluck, Philidor and Grétry. Favart’s forte was the comic libretto, and he was the first really important writer in this genre. His early libretti were, among others, vaudevilles and drames forains, which were pieces meant to be performed at trade fairs. In the mid-eighteenth century Favart developed the comédie mêlée d’ariettes, a form of the libretto as a continuous story into which songs could be fitted. Favart also became known for his depictions of peasants, normally seen as lumpish oafs, but in his libretti they were treated more realistically and with greater respect. The realism of the later opéra comique owed much to Favart’s writing.
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