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