'Better to be a genuine Pierrot than a false Pyrrhus’: Ange Goudar and the ballets of Jean-Georges Noverre

The French pamphleteer and wit Ange Goudar was in the audience at Drury Lane theatre, in November 1755, during performances of Noverre’s ballet, Les Fetes Chinoises. He was expecting to see the spectacular production that had delighted audiences in Marseilles, Lyons and Paris but instead found himself in the midst of Francophobe riots, and his detailed memoir of those performances, which survives in a letter to a friend in Paris, forms a valuable addition to the press reports of the time and the observations of other commentators. Goudar himself was not yet highly critical of Noverre’s work, but his attitude hardened over the following two decades and in a series of bitingly satirical letters published in the name of his young wife Sara he criticised Noverre’s over-long and complicated ballets, his attitude to dramatic pantomime, and his arrogant claims for his own work. This paper looks at the some of Goudar’s commentaries on Noverre from Les Fetes Chinoises to the Italian ballets of the 1770s.

Jennifer Thorp
Symposium Title: 
Celebrating Jean-Georges Noverre 1727-1810: his world, and beyond – 2010
Author affiliation: 
New College, Oxford