Dancing in the Streets: Ballet de Cour on the Pont Neuf in Seventeenth–Century France
We know from Le Cerf de La Viéville that in the early eighteenth century airs and dance music from Jean-Baptiste Lully’s operas were being sung by street singers on the Pont Neuf, with new texts being grafted onto Lully’s melodies. In this presentation I will demonstrate that street singers on the Pont Neuf were adapting music from ballets de cour as vehicles for street performance long before Lully came to dominate French musical aesthetics. My examination of melodies from ballets de cour that were used as vehicles for new text settings in street performance demonstrates that selections were made carefully for intertextual and intermusical reasons, and that the music was freely adapted to conform to the practice and aesthetics of the street and the pont-neuf tradition. I will begin by examining the earliest known new text settings of music from a ballet de cour, as preserved in the Maurepas Chansonnier. I will then focus on ballet-based music from the time of the Fronde, known as mazarinades and published in two collections in 1649 and 1652 respectively, and other dance-based songs published in 1665 from the famous street singer Phillipot le Savoyard.