When the Fat Guy Sings: Versailles Royal Opera


Louis XV did not change much the Chateau of his great-grandfather; but he added those bronze statues inside le Bassin de Neptune and the Opera House that you see at the end of the Northern wing. This was a welcome addition for previously Versailles had no theater, and the space for it had to be invented again and again. The first performance at the Royal Opera took place on 17 May 1770. They decided to give Lulli’s Perseus, which was probably a tribute to the musical taste of Louis XIV, Lulli being the Sun King’s favorite composer. The whole thing was a disaster. First of all, the choice of opera did not go over well with the audience: the courtiers thought the previous century music a little too dated; plus in the middle of the show the scene-changing machinery malfunctioned and the decorations were no longer lowered but rather dropped upon the stage. The dropping of the screens kicked up a cloud of dust, and in this dust cloud the actors had to go on. At the end of the performance, the tenor, whose last name justly happened to be Le Gros, collapsed, that is instead of saving Andromeda our hero fainted. A witty courtier remarked in her diaries that the fall of the Fat Guy was the real highlight of the whole night.

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This entry was posted in Court, Courtiers, Louis XIV, Lulli. Bookmark the permalink.

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