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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The subject of opera audiences as a field of study emerged in the 1990s, in the wake of the “cultural turn” of the previous two decades. This essay surveys the history of the opera audience as it moved from court to urban settings in the seventeenth century; as it reflected the transition from “event” to “work” aesthetic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and as it came to represent an urban class structure as well as the interests of special groups such as women and opera queens. The chapter concludes with a case study using staged depictions of French opera audiences c.1700 in the comedy-ballet, opera, and opera-ballet of Lully, Molière, and Campra, and in the paintings of Watteau as models for an audience-centered, as opposed to a sovereign-centered, aesthetic and ideology.

Keywords: opera, audience, event aesthetic, audience-centered, Molière, Lully, Campra, comedy-ballet, opera-ballet, Watteau

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