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From the 17th century to today, to what extend is French opera a "product" of French politics?

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  1. The French opera: a political art
    1. Using the opera as the best way to deliver a political message
    2. Using the opera to reinforce power and control society
  2. The French opera creating a new French identity
    1. The affirmation of new social actors throughout the opera
    2. The use of the opera to create a national and patriotic identity

Opera is a musical form of art in which the text is often sung. The singers enact the drama on stage, with costumes and other visual elements like dancing or a play of lights. Though it is often considered that opera was born in Italy around 1600, but even if Mazarin tried to import it to France at the end of the 1660's, it was only with the arrival of Jean-Baptiste Lully that opera began to take real importance in the country. It must first be highlighted that the opera was often considered, by many composers, as a good political way of expression since it is the most complete art form to show human passions, because of its various aspects: scenery, costumes, dancing, singing etc. Since the French revolution the opera was a good instrument of propaganda and vector of politics. The French opera was also a political anticipator and a "producer" of general trends. While the composers had to deal with censorship and other types of control, the messages delivered were sometimes more than just state propaganda. The "political opera" is nowadays a recognized type of opera, in which criticisms can be made.

[...] During the 19th century, there were policemen attending the shows to control what was happening and to keep people quiet and the French opera had to respect precise rules. The authors and composers, to have the possibility to have their shows played, had often to transform the reality changing for example the name of the state were the action was taking place or using metaphoric characters. The tiny relationship between French opera and French politics has been highlighted here: everything in the form and in the use made of it by the political leaders let us think that the French opera was, and maybe still is since it is yet partly financed by the state, a ?product? of French official politics. [...]


[...] What is important to understand is that, in the form itself, the French opera permits the deliverance of a message. The chorus can be taken as an example of the peculiar incarnation of the political message inside the operas. Since the chorus is introducing, commenting and concluding the drama, it is seen as the voice of the public opinion. Contrary to Greek operas, the chorus plays a real role in the French operas, being an actor of the evolution of the story: everybody can write a country's history, not only the men at the top of the state. [...]

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