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(b Paris, 1687; d Paris, Oct 13, 1770). French librettist and historian . He was elected to the Académie Française in 1733 and appointed lecteur to Queen Maria Leszczyńska around 1745. He is best known for Les chats (1727), an elegant and witty history of the cat since ancient Egyptian times. As a librettist Moncrif worked exclusively on a small scale, limiting himself to the opéra-ballet, with its separate entrées, and to the independent acte de ballet. A taste for exoticism, first explored in his ‘contes indiens’ Les avantures de Zéloïde et d’Amanzarifdine (1715), is also evident in the librettos. One entrée of L’empire de l’Amour (‘Les génies du feu’) inhabits the enchanted world of Middle Eastern mythology, still a fairly unusual choice in 1733 but soon to become fashionable; his subsequent librettos, notably Zélindor, roi des silphes and Les génies tutélaires, mainly adopt Arabian or Asiatic settings. Most were moderately successful; ...


Barbara Reynolds

(b Ponte in Valtellina, 1695; d 1756). Italian scholar. At first a Jesuit, he left the order to devote himself to secular studies. His most important work, in seven volumes, was a history of poetry from classical antiquity to his own era, Della storia e della ragione di ogni poesia (Bologna, 1739–52). It alternates discursive articles with brief subject and biographical entries, and explores the relationship between poetry and music. Much of the work concerns the history of music and early instruments, of which there are illustrations. Volumes ii and iii contain articles on melodramma, oratorio and cantata. Part 2 of volume iii (pp.425–563), which contains lists of singers, actors, writers, stage designers, costume designers and inventors of stage machines, as well as comments on production, is invaluable for historians of opera.

S. Quadrio: Di F. S. Quadrio e delle sue opere (Brescia, 1911) B. Pinchetti: La vita di F. S. Quadrio...


Ronald S. Ridgway

[Voltaire, François Marie Arouet de; Arouet, François Marie]

(b Paris, Nov 21, 1694; d Paris, May 30, 1778). French author and philosopher . His works include seven librettos, only two of which were performed during his lifetime: La princesse de Navarre (1744) and Le temple de la gloire (1745), both written for celebrations at the court of Versailles. Voltaire made no claim to musical expertise and expressed little interest in orchestral music. Opera, however, like everything connected with the stage, exerted a lifelong fascination for him, although his pronouncements on it were ambivalent, varying from condemnation of its absurdities to suggestions that the kind of reforms proposed by Gluck could eventually lead to the creation of a form of music theatre worthy of comparison with Greek tragedy.

His own attempts to provide a model were ultimately disappointing. Tanis et Zélide (1733), not intended for performance, is a typically Voltairian propaganda piece concerning the overthrow of an evil theocracy in ancient Egypt. ...