Coquettes, Wives, and Widows
Title Details

202 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

3 b/w. 20 line. Illustrations

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Coquettes, Wives, and Widows

Gender Politics in French Baroque Opera and Theater

by Marcie Ray

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
A revelatory study of how composers and dramatists of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France criticized and trivialized independent women in their portrayals of them in works of theater and opera.
Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French theatrical works created an uneasy dialogue with the often-blistering depictions of marriage in contemporary writings by literary women. For over a century, composers and librettists attempted to silence such anti-traditionalist views through dramas that ridicule, banish, or, even more violently, silence and subjugate female characters who resist marriage. These dramas portray independent-minded women as agents ofchaos who deploy their sexuality to destabilize class demarcations, or to destroy families and at times the monarchy itself.

Coquettes, Wives, and Widows: Gender Politics in French Baroque Opera and Theater shows how dramatists wrested narratives away from women and weaponized those narratives in a defense of the status quo. It examines a wide range of works of different types: from Jean-Philippe Rameau's Platée, ou Junon jalouseand André Campra's Aréthuse, ou la Vengeance de l'Amour to representative works from the Comédie Française, the Comédie Italienne, and the fairgound theaters. Each theater offered denigrating portraits of independent womenas dissolute, obstinate, and extremist.

The operas and other theatrical works explored in Coquettes, Wives, and Widows reveal who (in the view of many at the time) should exercise authority to make choices aboutwomen's lives. They also give evidence of widespread fears about how society might change if it were to grant women themselves that responsibility.
Introduction
From Platée's Frog-like Flirt to Pompadour's Yellow Skin: Correcting the Coquette
Disciplining Widows
The Price of Independence: Women Seeking Separations
"Everywhere Our Hearts are in Danger": Cupid's Triumph and the Decline of the Indifferent Mistress
Epilogue
Appendix

Marcie Ray is Associate Professor of Musicology at Michigan State University.

"Marcie Ray explores women's character types in French comic entertainments, contextualizing spectacles and their themes within a broad array of literary and historical works and stylistic trends. Ray probes questions ranging from identity to reception in her efforts to locate the sites and mechanisms involved in women's quest for cultural authority in the eighteenth century. Coquettes, Wives, and Widows is timely, intriguing, and significant." Margaret Butler, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Well fleshed-out, with detailed and well-documented case studies. [The consideration of] legal contexts is greatly welcome, allowing the author to dig further into the thick social and mental reality of French society during the Ancien Régime. The discussion of the "coquette" focuses on how the treatment of a social class could serve to critique and denigrate women who sought to please in order to turn their charms to profit. . . .Astute. . . . Teems with ideas." REVUE DE MUSICOLOGIE

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9781580469883

May 2020

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Title Details

202 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

3 b/w. 20 line. Illustrations

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Imprint: University of Rochester Press