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Ionarts in Manchester: Baroque Music Conference

The reason that I came to Manchester was to take part in a round table presentation on the Ballet de la délivrance de Renault, performed for the first and only time in January 1617 in the royal residence of the Louvre. Although our session was the first one on the first day of the biennial Baroque Music Conference, held this time here in Manchester, we received a surprisingly good number of listeners. This work is a ballet de cour, a court ballet that featured roles danced by the King of France, Louis XIII, and thirteen of his court noblemen, as well as a host of professional dancers and musicians. I am presently in the final stages of completing an edition of the music for this ballet, to be published by the Centre de Musique Baroque in Versailles. In addition, I have joined with a team of scholars from New Zealand, France, and the United States to publish a book of essays, on a range of topics concerning this ballet. Four of us came to Manchester this summer to present some of our findings and discuss a number of issues relating to our work.

Georgie Durosoir, L'air de cour en France, 1571–1655, 1995Georgie Durosoir first presented a paper on the epics of Tasso and Ariosto, and particularly how a story from Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata was adapted for our ballet. Georgie has already published an excellent book on the air du cour (L'air de cour en France, 1571–1655, shown here), or French court song, of which there are eight examples in our ballet, and her new book on the court ballet in 17th-century France (Les ballets de la cour de France au XVIIe siècle) will appear this year. I gave a short paper on the noble participants in the ballet, many of whom had not been previously identified. Peter Walls spoke about the numerous problems involved in editing the musical sources for the ballet, particularly the music for dancing. Greer Garden presented her theories on the two versions of the ballet, for there are two sources presenting the content of the work that vary from one another significantly. Greer also read a contribution from Kate van Orden, who is interested in the role of ballet as an artistic sublimation of violence in 17th-century French society. Kate's new book, of which I have read a chapter, will appear soon.

In addition to our final work on publishing these two books, the team is involved in trying to find a place and group to perform the ballet. Hopefully, I will be able to tell you more about that soon.

Go to Part 2.

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