Opéra-Comique: A Sourcebook

Letellier, Robert Ignatius. Opéra-Comique: A Sourcebook. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.

As might be gathered from the title, Robert Letellier’s Opéra-Comique: A Sourcebook is a handbook of the opéra-comique genre as it developed in Paris from 1762 to 1915.  The book itself chiefly consists of a chronology listing all known works premiered specifically at the Opéra-Comique and a separate index which lists these works by composer.  Though author focuses primarily upon the single theatrical entity known as the Opéra-Comique (which occupied various buildings throughout the nineteenth century), the index’s works lists also include operas premiered by other rivaling theatrical companies such as the Théâtre-Lyrique, because these operas substantially contributed to the development of opéra-comique as a genre and provide a fuller understanding of a composer’s participation its evolution.

This handbook provides ready access to basic facts about a given work: the form, number of acts, librettists, the date and theatre of the premiere, and frequently a descriptive analysis. Users thumbing through the concluding, cross-referenced indexes can also access this information by the names of the librettists or singers who performed the roles, among other ways.  Additionally, individuals new to the occasionally complicated history of nineteenth-century Parisian opera will benefit from Letellier’s relevant introduction on the subject, making this book appropriate for both music students and advanced researchers alike.

Lindsay Weaver
Research Assistant