Reviewed Elsewhere: R. James Arnold, Grétry’s Operas and the French Public: From the Old Regime to the Restoration.

Michael Berkowitz's picture
 
R. James Arnold. Grétry’s Operas and the French Public: From the Old Regime to the Restoration. Farnham:  Ashgate,  2016. xii + 232 pp. £110.00 (cloth), ISBN 
978-1-472-43850-8.
 
Arnold is particularly adept at cultural contextualization, and the study is concerned as much with Grétry’s place in contemporary aesthetic debates, as with his political and social importance and wider shifts in musical and artistic history ...
 
Rousseau is never far from sight, both as musical theorist and as personal role-model ...
 
This is more a cultural study than an analysis of Grétry’s operas, though: while his works are frequently referenced and cited, sustained musico-dramatic analysis is somewhat in the background. Given the frequent reference to tears and other emotional manifestations, there is much here that a historian of the emotions will value, even though Arnold eschews the recent theoretical literature concerning that topic. His work also meshes well with current research on posterity. Opera and music specialists will particularly appreciate this book’s impressive range of primary research and deft interweaving of the major topics of contemporary debates in French opera.