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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines music censorship in the Old Regime France by focusing on the politics of theater. More specifically, it analyzes the politics of silence in eighteenth-century pantomime, a type of theatrical dumb show made popular by the Forains. As an example, it considers Les Oracles d’Harpocrate, ou le dieu du silence à la foire by Charles-François Pannard, performed by the troupe Nouveau Spectacle-Pantomime in August 1746. The article shows how Pannard’s pantomime politicizes silence by featuring Harpocrates, the Egyptian god of silence. Using Harpocrate as a trope indicative of a culture of politicized silence, this essay offers a putative model correlating silence and singing, arguing that Harpocrates helps explain silence as a counter-censorship strategy in late eighteenth-century French operas and plays, including Beaumarchais’s Figaro plays and his opera Tarare (1787).

Keywords: music, censorship, France, theater, politics, silence, pantomime, Forains, Charles-François Pannard, Harpocrates

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