Personalities | François-André Danican Philidor | Classical Era | Opera

1726–95, French

Philidor was more or less forced into writing opéras comiques once his earlier, Italian, style got him banned from the Paris Opéra in 1756. Philidor adapted splendidly. He soon became a successful composer in this typically French genre, producing Blaise le savetier (‘Blaise the Cobbler’, 1759) and Le Sorcier (‘The Sorcerer’, 1764). At a performance of Le Sorcier, Philidor became the first composer to take a curtain call. However, like his later opera Ernelinde, princesse de Norvège (‘Ernelinde, Princess of Norway’, 1767), Le Sorcier sailed perhaps too close to plagiarism due to the influence exerted by the work of Gluck, whom Philidor greatly admired. Nevertheless, Philidor’s contribution to opéra comique was impressive: melodies acquired greater character and his deft use of modulation coloured the musical harmonies to significant effect. Philidor was innovative too, though this was not always welcome to audiences. The unaccompanied canon quartet for his opera Tom Jones (1765), taken from Henry Fielding’s story of the same name, was at first too much of a novelty for audiences and it was booed. Later the opera was recognized as Philidor’s masterpiece. Philidor also included everyday sounds in his scores – a hammer striking metal or a donkey braying.

Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
Major Operas | Ernelinde, princesse de Norvège by François-André Danican Philidor | Classical Era
Personalities | Niccolò Piccinni | Classical Era | Opera
Houses & Companies | Paris Opéra | High Romantic | Opera


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