Techniques | Vaudeville | Classical Era | Opera
Vaudevilles, which took melodies from well-known operas, were popular tunes incorporated into works performed at venues such as the Comédie-Italienne in Paris. The vaudeville – taken from voix de ville, ‘voice of the town’, had its own identifiable pattern. Its title was the same as the first line of the melody: this, in turn, was the first line as it appeared in the original opera. In the sixteenth century, ‘vaudeville’ described a short song, usually on the subject of love. The melody was simple and repeated rhythms were a regular feature of the vaudeville. These tunes were sometimes called fredons, from the French verb fredonner, to hum, or Pont du Neuf melodies, after the broad bridge over the River Seine where minstrels gathered. When incorporated into opera, the mix of music and drama greatly influenced the development of opéra comique, which included parodied versions of serious opera and other satirical material, some of it political. The vaudeville itself could be backed up by a vaudeville finale, in which the stanzas are shared out between each character and are then performed, ensemble-style, by the whole cast singing together.
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