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Rameau's "Platée" Returns: A Case of Double Identity in the "Querelle des bouffons"

Downing A. Thomas
Cambridge Opera Journal
Vol. 18, No. 1 (Mar., 2006), pp. 1-19
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3878270
Page Count: 19
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Rameau's "Platée" Returns: A Case of Double Identity in the "Querelle des bouffons"
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Abstract

Although the première of Jean-Philippe Rameau's comic opera Platée predated the Querelle des bouffons by several years, it raised questions that were at the centre of the debate that shook the Paris Opé ra in the early 1750s. Commentators had difficulty situating Platée within the French operatic tradition; and many identified it as a work derived from Italian models. The opera's music and libretto, mentioned in many of the letters and pamphlets written during the Querelle, clearly struck a nerve. Platée challenged the aesthetic status of French opera by foregrounding aspects of the French language to which participants in the Querelle, most notably Jean-Jacques Rousseau, objected: the silent 'e', the presence of diphthongs and an overabundance of consonants. In the end, by undermining the traditional poetic framework through which operatic works were understood in the mid-eighteenth century, the debate on Platée during the Querelle opened up new possibilities for discourse on music.

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