Book coverWe are pleased to announce the publication of Michel-Jean Sedaine: Théâtre de la Révolution edited by Mark Darlow, which is volume 63 in our Critical Texts series.

Sedaine was not, it's fair to say, one of the legion of capable young men (it was mostly men) thrown into prominence by the Revolution. He celebrated his 70th birthday one month before the storming of the Bastille, by which point he was a grand old man of the theatre: his first outing, a one-act verse play, was staged as early as 1752. Sedaine made his name writing the books for light operas, a fashionable genre in his time, and he was elected to seat no. 7 of the Académie française in 1786, thus becoming one of the les Immortels. Immortality must have been an enviable condition in the Paris of the late 1780s. But William Tell, the heroic commoner, and Bluebeard, the serial-killer aristo, sound like viable topics for a Revolutionary stage.

Both operas edited here were originally staged with music by André Grétry. It was said of him that 'il est jeune, il a l'air pâle, blême, souffrant, tourmenté, tous les symptômes d'un homme de génie', and he had one other calling-card of professional success: the knack of getting on well with powerful people, having (at different times, of course) been a friend to both Voltaire and Napoleon.

This summer has been a busy time for the Revolution, at the MHRA: check out also Commemorating Mirabeau: Mirabeau aux Champs-Elysées and other texts, edited by Jessica Goodman.

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