Molière [ Poquelin, Jean-Baptiste ]
- John S. Powell
[ Poquelin, Jean-Baptiste ]
( b Paris, bap. Jan 15, 1622; d Paris, Feb 17, 1673). French playwright and actor . He was related to the Mazuel dynasty of Parisian musicians. He frequently included songs, instrumental music and dances in his productions. His first company, the Illustre Théâtre (formed in 1643), employed a professional dancer and four instrumentalists to perform ‘tant en comédie que ballets’. After a 13-year tour of the provinces (where in the 1650s they performed Pierre Corneille's musical machine play Andromède and the Ballet des incompatibles) they returned to Paris; there Molière's first big success was the sparkling, urbane comedy Les précieuses ridicules (1659), in which string players have a part in the dramatic action. His later contribution to musical theatre consisted of the so-called comédies-ballets, which date from the height of his career (in fact, only Le bourgeois gentilhomme, 1670, was originally labelled a Comédie-ballet )....