From the show point of view, the French comic opera is, on the whole, a success, and the music plays a role often very pleasant. All this is lively, alert, witty, clever, sometimes sparkling - it sings in all memories, and there is no need to know the rudiment of solfege to delight. The music, almost exclusively melodic, although supported by an orchestra at once light, transparent and which, never, indifferently catches the attention, follows the action with suppleness, with spirit, with good humor.
It is in the Airs serious and to drink, the Italian Comedy and in the theaters of fairs that the Opera-Comique confirms its birth, develops and ends up to prevail notably thanks to, at the end of the XVIIe century, with the fairs St-Laurent and St-Germain (which take place from February 3rd to Sunday Passion). At the end of the year 1714, the Opera authorizes the final name of the Opéra-Comique then composed of Vaudeville (originally Vau de Vire) mixed ariettes. It is thus the alternation of the spoken and the sung which makes the specificity of the Opéra-Comique unlike the Opera which is sung from end to end. The performers need a solid work of actors allied to vocal qualities more and more demanding. The nineteenth century will produce a considerable number of scores played hundreds of times among which stand out among others: The White Lady (1825) Boieldieu, The Dragons of Villars (1856) Maillard, The Pre Cleric (1832) Hérold, The Wedding of Jeannette (1853) Massé, Lalla Roukh (1862) David or The Postillon Longjumeau (1836) Adam.
In our series of collections, we will not fail to propose works before and after these dates, works particularly chosen for their differences (in terms of tessitura, agility, legato, etc.). It was obvious to us, when it was the case, to leave the spoken texts before, during and after the air, which characterizes the very essence of the Opéra-Comique. The goal of our collections is above all to develop an essential repertoire of the history of French music and to give the opportunity to the performers to develop their vocal and theatrical qualities.
Dr. Michel Verschaeve
* Robert Bernard, History of Music, Volume II, Editions Nathan, Paris, 1961, p. 621.