The Singing Body in the Tragédie Lyrique of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century France: Voice, Theatre, Speech, Pleasure

Article excerpt

In her paper on the "operatic scandal of the singing body" for The Cambridge Opera Journal, Michelle Duncan points out how difficult it is to give an account of the experience of listening to opera, especially while considering the performer's body:

[...] opera studies persist in thinking of the voice as extra-corporeal. Carnal voices are either lacking or absent, marked by what they do not do, operative through failure and negativity, or envisioned as supra-objects that are off the scale, excessively loud (and thus impossible to register or to be perceived as material) and potentially "violent". As for the body of the singer, opera studies has tended to ignore it altogether unless it possesses currency as the object of desire or of a fetish. And when this happens, both the body and voice become secondary to the affect or erotic desire of the spectator. (Duncan 2004: 285)

Duncan underlines that the singing voice, in opera studies, is not considered in and of itself. Even when it is imbued with some positive qualities, it is still considered as an element that is "off the scale", that always goes further, or even too far from our musical experience of listening. As such, it could only be grasped indirectly by the effects it projects upon the listener. This is the reason why the singing body disappears in opera studies: the real way the sound has been produced, by a real body, is not as important as the way it meets the listener's desire, which refers to a mysterious locus of risk and freedom within the listening subject.

To apprehend the voice as an excess is to experience the voice as almost magically transcending the body of the performer, as formidable and disciplined as that body may be. We know how psychoanalytic theory illuminates this scenario: by considering the voice as an objet (petit) a, replacing the maternal body as the unique and originating object of true affection, Jacques Lacan opened the way to understanding the experience of opera as jouissance (Lacan 1981). The voice would be the pure signal of what is before and also beyond the listening subject, before and beyond the self. Thus opera, especially with the role it gives to the female voice, as the summit of what is impossibly symbolised, would be dedicated entirely to this excessive, transgressive and affectively ambivalent quest. There is no doubt that today, this model of interpretation is the most acknowledged in studies concerning the lyrical voice (see, for instance, Poizat 1986; Quignard 1996; Vivès 2002). However, we also know that this model is attached to a specific moment, to a specific musical style: being "grand opera" of the nineteenth century, or in Nicholas Till's terms, opera as "metaphysical", an extraordinary system intended to glorify the voice, and thus lose the singing body through the alternatives of presence and absence, pleasure and understanding. But, in other places, at other moments, it is obviously distinct: for instance, we know that at the birth of the opera, the Florentine Camerata preoccupied itself with its words, with the clarity of their pronunciation; or in more recent twentieth century history, how Broadway musicals require bodies that sing and dance simultaneously, and even more recently we can hear how some contemporary performers try to "de-aestheticise" the female voice (Dunn and Jones 1997: 4): Laurie Anderson with the use of the vocoder, or Diamanda Galas with the scream. By considering the voice as the poetic1 centre of the work, and naturalising the conditions of its presentation and production, and thus almost erasing them in order to overcome the listener, the nineteenth-century grand operatic tradition, whose legacy is still very evident in repertoires and expectations today, is without doubt a particularly striking moment in the history of music theatre, but nevertheless, a limited one.

Does that mean that we could rediscover the singing body by looking to operatic forms other than the nineteenth-century model of "grand opera"? Not exactly. But by considering this ''grand opera" as a specific aesthetic moment, by relativising it, we can find new ways to think of the singing body. The first great French operatic genre, the tragédie lyrique, illustrated in about ninety works between 1673 and the middle of the 1760s, can help us do just that, with the strange silencing it seems to impose on the lyrical voice.


If the understanding of music theatre as entirely dedicated to the voice makes the singing body disappear, then the tragédie lyrique by contrast should make it re-appear. The latter form was actually thought of as theatre, and, as a result, the performer's body was fully taken into consideration because her/his singing is regarded as a challenge to her/his acting.

As Catherine Kintzler's analyses have determined, the first operatic genre in France was established alongside the rules of dramatic genre (Kintzler 1991) being rules that corresponded to a poetics for which the coherence of the fiction was the chief priority. Furthermore the French poetics of the theatre were predicated upon an Aristotelian view whereby coherence was guaranteed in the first instance by the story. As a part of the performance {spectacle), music was theoretically marginalised and looked upon as an obstacle to the mimetic representation (Louvat-Molozay 2002: 85-126).

As a consequence, the performer's first task was not to sing well, but to embody the dramatic fiction by playing a role. It is thus relevant to notice that the performer was called an "actor". This becomes apparent to scholars of the genre through the commentaries of the performances at the time. Nothing is said about the texture of the voices, their timbre', the audience, the commentators tell us, wants to understand the story and to believe in the characters. For instance, when Mme de Sévigné relates a performance of Atys (Lully and Quinault 1676), she complains that the preceding grotesque roles played by the main singer prevent her from believing in the hero: "Atys is this little person who played both the Fury and the Nurse; so that we always see these ridiculous characters through Atys" (Sévigné 1676: 285-286).2 Meanwhile, the Councillor of the Grand Conseil and opera goer Ladvocat's impressions, conveyed to the young Abbé Dubos, are restricted to details of playing style, and simple descriptions of the staged roles. In a letter dated 16 April 1695 he wrote: "The rest of the actors executed their roles well enough, except Dumesnil who forgot to remove his sword in the fifth act, where he is to be sacrificed" (Ladvocat 1695: 48).3 The role was more important than the voice. The source suggests that the bodies are described commensurate to their ability to give life to a character.

The singer's task was thus considered in relation to the actor's task. However, the difference is that the former was supposed to be more involved in her/his charge of conveying the character theatrically because her/his singing was seen as a handicap for expression, according to the aim of theatrical efficiency. When considering the different kinds of declamation, including the musical declamation that takes place in opera, Grimarest asserted:

If the vocal music usually gives some pleasure, it is because the injury made to the words by the intervals of music is compensated by the actor's pleasant voice and art, who distances himself from musical time in order to approach as much as possible the correct way of expressing the passion (Grimarest 2001 [1707]: 357).4

According to Grimarest, the performer must be able to follow his "feeling" and go further than the score in order to "compensate" for the lack of coherence of the musical representation. So, she/he is asked to play in her/his own singing voice. Two of the most obvious and common devices for this kind of involvement were agréments, that develop in a sort of lexicon that the performer can use in an individual way, and rhythmical inégalités. The inégalités aimed at slightly disturbing the strict divisions of rhythmical values by dotting some of them. As for agréments, they were a way of modifying the melodic design or the texture of the voice. Some of their names particularly suggest the involvement of the body, like the tremblement, a kind of trill, the sanglot, an expiration preceding the sound in itself, or also the port de voix, a way of guiding the voice while sliding from one note to another. It is thus obvious that singing was, in the context of the tragédie lyrique, considered a way of representing the physical symptoms of passions. In his medical and philosophical reflections, Cureau de la Chambre makes it clear when he comments about the way the agréments are usually situated on the melodic line:

The tremblements are more frequent at the end of cadences and great ports de voix because this is where the breath decreases and loses itself. If they are done at the beginning and also in the progression of the voice, it is to mark the eagerness of the desire, the suffering and other similar passions that accompany love (Cureau de la Chambre 1647: 348).5

So, if the first French operatic genre drew attention to the singing body, or, we could even say, prevented us from forgetting it, it is because of its poetic mistrust of music as an ingredient of representation. The singing body was thus viewed as an acting body that sings, which translates into an acting body that created different ways of forming passions in that very voice.

THE BODY WITHIN THE VOICE AND THE VOICE'S OWN BODY We cannot be surprised, then, that nobody seems to care about the singing body from a technical point of view in France from the end of the seventeenth century until the middle of the eighteenth century. Indeed, the few French treatises of the time discuss issues of pronunciation very deeply, but say nothing about the body as a singing tool: nothing about the larynx, the vocal cords, the muscles of the tongue and those of the lips, for which the mechanisms are rather well known (Dandrey 1990: 25-39). Despite this, what strikes readers the most is the fact that there is nothing written about the way for singers to manage the breath, at least not before the second half of the eighteenth century. This is meaningful because all of these aspects have very important sonorous consequences: that which is at stake includes the density of the sound, which in a sense relates to the way the body is inscribed in the sound. Artistically, the consequence of this absence of care for an efficient use of breath is indicated by the shortness of musical phrases. It is evident, also, that the French musician Rochemont claims this absence of care when he criticises Italian technique as a vain search for results, in that: "the less the voice uses air, the more it is able to serve the performer in the way he wants to play" (Rochemont 1754: 53).6 The result of a lack of breath management is a texture less focused, more shady and evanescent. On this point, the comparative descriptions of French and Italian singing are very significant. From the French point of view, the Italian voice is "stronger, clearer, neater, and more sonorous" (Mersenne 1636: t. 2, 42),7 and it plays with strong contrasts, between, on the one hand, the flights allowed by the "amazing easiness of the throw or singing exercises", (Saint-Évremond [1969]: 434)8 and on the other hand, those sounds that seem to "die completely by the end of the breath" (Raguenet 1702: 93).9 As such, the Italian voice recalls "sanglots" and "ms" (Saint-Évremond 1677: 100-102). The French voice, on the contrary, when appreciated once again from a French point of view, is thought of as "sweet", "charming" and "tender" (Mersenne 1636: t. 2, 42 and Le Cerf 1972 [1705]: 62) and is characterised by "grace", "tenderness of touch, and clarity" (Saint-Évremond 1677: 107).10 While the Italian sound-characterised by excess and intensity- seems to have autonomy and density, the French voice, on the contrary, is concerned with Ubeau langage" and politeness.

Thus, the absence of technical interest about the body in the first French operas leads to a specific kind of sonorous texture: not a full sound, giving the sensation of completion, but a more fragile sound, where the voice is never emancipated from language. Many foreign commentators were intrigued, if not annoyed by this link between the voice and articulate speech, with its audible prudence, hesitation, or even reluctance to use a loud and sonorous voice. For instance, the German musician Johann Joachim Quantz notices of the French musicians at the beginning of the eighteenth century that "their airs speak more than sing. They almost call for a more skilful use of the tongue than that of the throat, in order to pronounce the words" (Quantz 1752: 318).11 As a consequence, he adds, "this way of singing is far from exhausting the power of the human voice" (ibid.).12 But some other commentaries are much more cruel: Raguenet, who writes against Le Cerf, mocks the "little girls without lungs, without strength nor breath"13 that he hears on the French stage (Raguenet 1702: 81) and observes that "the high voices have so little strength that if they were to further weaken, they would completely extinguish and they would not be heard anymore" (ibid.: 93).14 As for the castrato Filipo Balatri, who travelled through the south of France at the beginning of the eighteenth century, his first encounter with the French singing style is depicted with sarcasm:

She begins to say Iris, and on the ris

Forces her voice so much, and dwells so long

That it must have been heard from Lyon to London.

I swear by Bacchus

That this shriek bores into my brain.

She takes up a higher note, and then a higher,

And her Iriiiiiiiis tears my heart to tatters. (Heriot 1974: 217)15

This commentary highlights a very important phenomenon: the preference of performers to neglect or refuse to use the body as a singing tool in order to stay close to ordinary spoken pronunciation may have had the paradoxical consequence of underlining the presence of the singing body, whereas the more elaborate Italian singing technique would have achieved a full and round voice that is perceived as having no relationship with the singing body, or as having its own body ignoring any social constraint. It is thus striking that the Italian voice is often described by images which refer to the fact of forgetting the human and social world, the world as it is shared with other people. For instance, Raguenet evokes the throats and the sounds of the voice of the nightingale (les "gosiers & [l]es sons de voix de Rossignol") and the "exhalations that can make you lose your sense of gravity and almost hold you back from breathing" (Raguenet 1702: 78-79).16

This gives us an insight into the degree of presence of the French operatic voice, and into what is at stake with it. It seems that refusing to let the voice "fly" in order to keep in contact with the body through singing is related to thinking of the operatic genre as theatre and thus prioritising the intelligibility of the text. In both cases, the presence that seems to be required from the performer is a presence intelligibly addressed to the audience.


We can consider that the goal of this style of singing was to show that an effort was being made to keep some distance with the listener's body. In this respect, the remarks concerning the grimaces made during a performance are very revealing. The arrival of Italian opera in France at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and the subsequent birth of French opera paved the way for a leitmotiv in written commentaries from this time: the call to "sing without grimacing" ("chanter sans grimace"), a default even mentioned when it is avoided. For instance, the violist André Maugars appreciates that the famous Leonora Baroni, in spite of being Italian, knows how to "sweeten" and "strengthen" her voice "without effort and without any grimaces".17 Bacilly, the author of the famous treatise about the Art de bien chanter, thinks that singing without grimacing is crucial for a singing teacher because it is one of those qualities that makes the strongest impressions in our minds (Bacilly 1679 [1994]: 73).

Obviously, these remarks do not show an ignorance of the body but, on the contrary, reveal an attention, a vigilance. Thus, control appears to be a requirement that the performer has to make visible and audible, not only a defence, a protection, but also like a positive gesture addressed to the listener. This is all the more striking, if we make the connection between these remarks and some prescriptions given in other arts of speech, such as rhetoric or conversation. For instance, René Bary, in his Méthode pour bien prononcer un discours, seems to remember that Erasme had said that "closed and tight lips used to be perceived, a long time ago, as a sign of righteousness" (Erasme 1977 [1530]: 60)18 and explains that it is necessary to consider that those to whom we speak are close enough, "reasonably distant, because honest people never speak with the mouth largely open" (Bary 1679: 45-46).19 Of course, this is much more than practical advice given in order to develop good speech. What it illuminates is the strategic role of the mouth, as a visible place of transition between interior and exterior, which, as such, can awake phantasmatic fears about what the historian Georges Vigarello refers to as the "porosity" of the body (Vigarello 1985: 15-25). Indeed, the fear for seepage and contagion is particularly strong at a time when the "process of civilization" (Elias 1973) is developing, building between bodies "this wall made of fearful modesty and emotional repulsion" (ibid.: 360).20

From that point of view, connecting the beauty of singing to the control of the body has nothing to do with ignoring the body. On the contrary, it is a way of considering it intensely in its ability to link people. Hence, the technical disinterest in the singing body has directly to do with the care for its social value. It can be related to François Couperin's advice on the way to "touch the harpsichord": moving beyond technical considerations, he suggests that the musician should "fix the grimaces of the face" ("[corriger] les grimaces du visage"), and display a look that is neither too fixed nor too lax21 (Couperin 1716: 4) - all this for the benefit of the "company" for whom we play (ibid. : 5-6). We see it clearly: the body concerned in musical and vocal performance is held under the same rules as the body in society.

Hence, the way the singing body is forced to be "contained" in the French operatic singing style reveals an ideal conception of the listening body: withheld, self-conscious, and, as such, able to keep in touch with the other listeners in an intelligible way. This is what depictions of the audience show. Le Cerf de La Viéville, for example, describes his experience of watching Lully's Armide:

When Armide is driven to stab Renaud in the last scene of Act Two, I have twenty times seen everyone struck with fear, breathing no more, motionless, the entire soul in the ears and in the eyes, until the air of the violin which ends the scene gives us permission to breathe; then breathing returns with a humming of joy and admiration [...] This unanimous movement of the people told me that the scene was certainly ravishing (Le Cerf 1972 [1705]: 139).22

We see here that the listeners quiver together as the plot thickens, finally meeting in a feeling of admiration through sonorous expressions that create a "humming". In Persée (Quinault and Lully 1682), as Le Cerf also narrates, the listeners "show one another the pleasure that the duo of Phinée et Mérope made them feel by slightly leaning their heads forward".23 Finally, he notices that, in Hésione (Danchet and Campra, 1700), when Anchise vows his obedience to Venus, the women in the audience "look at each other and smile".24 Smiles, looks, gestures, "humming" noises that circulate between Rentre") them: we see that bodies are in touch through signs that they share. In fact, we can precisely recognise what Géraud de Cordemoy, in his Discours physique de la parole, designates as "signs of institution" ("signes d'institution"): signs that are linked arbitrarily to a thought or an emotion, and which can be acknowledged by all, as opposed to the spontaneous and thus uncontrollable productions of the "natural" voice that are activated by the passions, and which depend on particular and individual cases (Cordemoy 1677: 67, 86, 131). It is as if the fact of being together, for the listeners, was given to be shown itself as performance, and as such feeding the consciousness of forming a group.

The contrast with the depictions of the Italian audience makes it all the more striking. An editor of the Mercure de France says how the Italian reactions to the singers surprised him by their intensity, as if the listener had been completely captured by it:

It is quite a pleasant thing that as soon as the women have finished a grand air, or as soon as they go out of the theatre, the Baracols [sic] (those who navigate the gondolas), and a number of other more respectable people, cry with all might Viva Bella, viva, ah, Cara! Sia benedetta. (Mercure Galant 1683: 243-245 )25

The description made by Raguenet is even more radical. According to him, when we listen to Italian opera:

We are in an ecstasy of pleasure; we must shout in order to release ourselves, no one can help it; we are impatient to reach the end of each air in order to breathe; often, we cannot wait for the end, we stop the musician with cries and everlasting applause. (Raguenet 1702: 58-59)26

In this example, the listener is possessed by a kind of pleasure that affects his body in an extreme way. Between the listener and the performer, the exchange is not organized: her/his cries do less to answer to the singing but more to merge with it. The audience seems to then form a mass, a crowd, an undefined group where singularities are expunged.

We find the same phenomenon later, when French singing evolved towards a freeing of the voice, an exacerbated lyrical style in the later eighteenth century. Under the effect of the full and round voice, playing with excessive contrasts, the listener seems to lose himself. We can see it for instance in the portrait of the Delbar, the playwright Pirón's wife, made by La Mettrie, when he theorizes the human "machine":

See the Delbar [...] in a box in the Opera: she looks pale and red alternately, she beats time with Rebel, she is touched with Iphigénie, becomes furious with Roland. All the impressions of the orchestra show through her face, as on a painting. Her eyes sweeten, convulse, laugh or arm themselves with military courage. People think she is crazy. She is not, unless it is crazy to feel pleasure (Offray de La Mettrie 1748: 37-38).27

The listener's body is subject here to the musical impressions, and, as such, isolated and dependent on an accelerated rhythm that takes it away from the world around us. And it is clear that it is the effect searched for by the new singing style.

Thus, the first French singing style confirms its singularity: with it, everything seems to be done in order to keep the listener's body in an intelligible system of signs, in order to fit an ideal conception of the audience as a structured body, with distinct members. There is no doubt that it enhances the fact that the audience, the "public", in an aesthetic sense, does not yet completely exist (Merlin-Kajman, 1994). As a matter of fact, this conception of the audience reminds us of the search for order, and of the consequent fear of dislocation that goes hand in hand with the production of efficient speech, as is evident, for instance, in Le Faucheur's reflection. The predicator, author of the first treatise on the eloquence of the body, writes:

What God did in the creation of the Universe, which he divided into different species without which it would be a confused mass and without form; and what he did in the production of our bodies, which he composed from different parts without which they would be an ugly, hideous mass of flesh, we must do in our public discourses, not only for invention, for disposition, and for elocution, but also for pronunciation (Le Faucheur 1657: 90-91 ).28

But of course, singing is not eloquence. So what is suggested by the fact that opera, like eloquence, preoccupies itself with the organisation of the audience is less a dependence upon the social preoccupations conveyed by operatic singing, but more the social and maybe political dimension that is given to this activity of pleasure. Thus this singing style brings out something that will often become invisible once the aesthetic is defined by autonomy and gratuity at the end of the eighteenth century (Agamben 1996): it brings out the fact that the singing body has always something to do with the body politic.

So, focusing on the first French operatic stage helps us find our way out of the theoretical impasse that tends to make the singing body disappear, with these three solutions:

(i) By remembering the fact that the singing body is also always an acting body, we are invited to question the distinction and the articulation between one and the other, and thus to seek the singing body through the embodiment of the character.

(ii) By illuminating the paradoxical relationship between, on the one hand, the physical investment of the performer through singing, and, on the other hand, the perception of the body by the listener, we can re-consider the way the body is present within the voice: the weaker the technical investment, the more audible the body within the voice. From that perspective, we can consider that there are tendencially two different kinds of voices: one that tends to let the body appear only at the margins of language, and one that seems to have its own body.

(iii) Finally, by recognising the way that tragédie lyrique takes the listeners' bodies, and, by doing so, the audience as a body into consideration, we are reminded of the fact that the singing body always concerns the listening body in a communal way.

We see then that examining and appraising the listener's desire does not lead to the fatal theoretical disappearance of the singing body, as we may have first thought with Duncan's remark on its "secondary" status for the listener. On the contrary, a detour through seventeenth-century France, in re-evaluating the poetic dominance of the singing voice emblematized by "grand opera", helps us to think about the way the listener experiences himself during the performance both as a desiring subject and as a social subject. Different systems of values become apparent in the history of music theatre: sometimes, what is praised is the compatibility between the two of them, and at other times, it is the way pleasure can rapture the listener from her/his social identity. In the latter case, the singing body is at the very centre of an aesthetic perception, as is shown in the cult of the diva in subsequent centuries, who has relied upon an interpenetration of life and art that was and is achieved within the body of the singer.

In other terms, by helping us to consider how music theatre links the aesthetic body to the public body, this historical detour invites us to reflect upon what philosopher Jacques Rancière calls the "sharing of the sensible" ("partage du sensible")29, by referring to the way the aesthetic experience organises space, and thus affects the way we live together (Rancière 2000). From that point of view, music theatre appears not only as a non-evident, heterogeneous, and complex aesthetic object, but also as a way of performing something in society, and experiencing relationships with others.


By considering the voice as the centre of the work, and naturalising the conditions of its presentation and production, the nineteenthcentury grand operatic tradition, whose legacy is still very evident in repertoires and expectations today, has led to an interpretation of the singing body as either paradoxically absent in spite of its overwhelming effect on the listener, or present in a purely negative way. My hypothesis is that to acknowledge the reorganisation of values that takes place in France from the birth of the tragédie lyrique to its decline-from the so-called "classic age" to the Enlightenment-makes us witness the elaboration of the assumptions that have led to such an impasse. We move from a "literary" view of opera to a view of the genre as a "jewellery box" for the voice; from a conception of the performer as being devoted to the character, to a conception where the performer uses his/her body in order to serve his/her voice first; from a conception of pleasure made of a negotiation between his passions and his ethical and social "self' to a system of values where singing is considered the best way to arouse an emotion that can hardly be formulated. In other terms, this historical detour helps us to consider how music theatre links the aesthetic body to the public body, thus inviting us to reflect upon what philosopher Jacques Rancière calls the "Sharing of the Sensible" ("partage du sensible"), by referring to the way the aesthetic experience organises space, and thus affects the way we live together.


1 Here and throughout the article, I use the adjective "poetic" in its link to The Poetics (Aristotle) thus meaning "related to the organisation, the functioning of the work".

2 [Editors' note: the English translations of relevant historical sources throughout this chapter have kindly been provided by author Sarah Nancy and the original French text is presented in this notes section]. "Atys est ce petit drôle qui faisait la Furie et la Nourrice; de sorte que nous voyons toujours ces ridicules personnages au travers d'Atys".

3 "Le reste des acteurs exécutèrent assez bien leurs rôles, hormis Dumesnil qui oublia d'ôter son épée au cinquième acte, où l'on le doit sacrifier".

4 "Si la Musique vocale cause communément du plaisir, c'est qu'on est dédommagé du tort que les intervalles font aux paroles, par la voix agréable, et par l'artifice de l'Acteur, qui quand il a le sentiment juste, s'écarte des mesures de la Musique pour approcher le plus qu'il peut de la manière dont la passion doit être exprimée".

5 "Les tremblements sont plus fréquents à la fin des cadences et des grands ports de voix, parce que c'est là que l'haleine se diminue et se perd. Et s'ils se font dès le commencement et dans le progrès de la voix, c'est pour marquer l'empressement du désir, de la Douleur, et d'autres semblables passions qui accompagnent l'Amour".

6 "Moins [la voix] dépense d'air, plus elle est capable de l'exécution qu'il [l'interprète] en exige".

7 "Plus forte, plus claire, plus nette, et plus sonore".

8 "Facilité de gosier surprenante pour les passages".

9 "Mourir tout à fait à la fin de l'air".

10 "Douce", "charmante" (Mersenne 1636) "tendre" (Le Cerf 1705); "la tendresse du toucher, et la propreté" (Saint-Évremond 1677).

11 "Leurs airs sont plus parlants que chantants. Ils demandent presque plus d'habileté de la langue, pour prononcer les paroles, que d'habileté du gosier".

12 "Loin s'en faut qu[e le chant français] n'épuise, pour ainsi dire, le pouvoir de la voix humaine".

13 Les "petites filles sans poumons, sans force, & sans haleine".

14 "Les Dessus ont si peu de force que, pour peu qu'ils vinssent à les affaiblir, ils s'éteindraient entièrement & on ne les entendrait plus du tout".

15 "Comincia a dir Iris, e spinge tanto / Su quel ris la sua voce, e dura tanto / Che da Lione a Londra saña andato. / Cospetto di Baccone, Bacconacio, / Che quel strido mi trapana '1 cervello / Riprende un tuon più alto, lascia quelle, / E c'è un Iriiiiiiiis fa de mio cuore un straccio".

16 Les "gosiers & [l]es sons de voix de Rossignol"; "haleines à faire perdre terre & à vous ôter presque la respiration".

17 "Adouci[r]" et "renforce[r]" sa voix "sans peine et sans faire aucunes grimaces" (Maugars 1639: 26).

18 "Que les lèvres jointes et serrées passaient jadis pour un indice de droiture".

19 "Raisonnablement distants, parce que les honnêtes gens ne parlent jamais la bouche extrêmement ouverte".

20 "Ce mur fait de pudeur craintive et de répulsion émotionnelle".

21 II ne faut pas "trop fixer la vue sur quelque objet, ni avoir l'air trop vague".

22 "Lorsqu'Armide s'anime à poignarder Renaud, dans cette dernière Scene du 2. Acte, j'ai vu vingt fois tout le monde saisi de frayeur, ne soufflant pas, demeurer immobile, l'âme toute entière dans les oreilles & dans les yeux, jusqu'à ce que l'air de Violon, qui finit la Scene, donnât permission de respirer; puis respirant là avec un bourdonnement de joie & d'admiration. [...] Ce mouvement unanime du peuple me disait fort sûrement, que la scène est ravissante".

23 "S'entremarqu[ent] l'un à l'autre par un penchement de tête, le plaisir qu[e le duo de Phinée et Mérope] leur avait fait" {ibid.).

24 "S'entre-regarde[nt] & souri[ent]" (ibid.).

25 "C'est une chose assez plaisante, que du moment qu[e les femmes] ont fini quelque grand Airs, ou qu'elles sortent du Théâtre, les Baracols [.sic] (ce sont ceux qui conduisent les Gondoles) & même quantité de personnes plus considérables, s'écrient de toutes leurs forces, Viva Bella, viva, ah, Cara! Sia benedetíaC

26 "On est extasié de plaisir; il faut se récrier pour se soulager, il n'y a personne qui puisse s'en défendre; on attend avec impatience la fin de chaque Air, pour respirer; on ne peut souvent se contenir jusqu'au bout, on interrompt le Musicien par des cris & par des applaudissements infinis".

27 "Voyez la Delbar [...] dans une loge d'Opéra; pâle et rouge tour à tour, elle bat la mesure avec Rebel; s'attendrit avec Iphigénie, entre en frireur avec Roland, etc. Toutes les impressions de l'orchestre passent sur son visage, comme sur une toile. Ses yeux s'adoucissent, se pâment, rient, ou s'arment d'un courage guerrier. On la prend pour folle. Elle ne l'est point, à moins qu'il n'y ait de la folie à sentir le plaisir".

28 "Ce que Dieu a fait en la création de l'Univers, lequel il a distingué en tant de différentes espèces qui s'y voient, sans quoi ce ne serait qu'une masse confuse et informe; et en la production de nos corps qu'il a composés de tant de diverses parties, sans quoi ils ne seraient qu'une masse de chair laide et hideuse: nous le devons faire en nos Discours publics, non seulement pour l'Invention, pour la Disposition, et pour l'Élocution, mais aussi pour la Prononciation".

29 [Editors' note: this phrase has been translated equally as the "sharing" or distribution" of "the sensible" in English-language sources].

[Author Affiliation]

Sarah Nancy (University Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3)

Sarah Nancy is Associate Professor at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3 where she teaches seventeenth-century French Literature. Her publications include La Voix féminine et le plaisir de l'écoute en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (The female voice and the pleasure of listening in France in the 17th and 18th centuries, Classiques Gamier, 2012, with an audio CD) and articles on the voice in different musical and literary genres and on the interpretation of sexual difference in language. Her research is inspired by her own singing practice. She was awarded the New Scholars Prize of the International Federation for Theatre Research in 2005.