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Le ballet d’action avant Noverre : Rameau et l’écriture sonore du geste
Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), un artiste européen au siècle des Lumières
Raphaëlle Legrand
Université Paris IV-Sorbonne
In the three decades before the publication of Noverre’s Lettres sur la danse, Rameau wrote a great deal of music for figurative dance in his operas. The “ballets d’action”, “ballets figurés” or pantomime ballets are either spread through the action in long scenes mixing up vocal music and dance, or concentrated in autonomous ballets as a play within a play. These two types of ballet can be made of either single pieces of music or of long and varied dance suites. Rameau builds musical meaning in three ways – homogeneous, contrasting or heterogeneous – while keeping the musical forms of his time (binary form, multi-sectional chaconne, and even accompanied recitative). Paradoxically, these experiments with ballet inside the opera made possible the separation of ballet and opera.