“We cannot seem to be rid of kings” (ix). Olivia Bloechl begins her original and provocative new monograph with a succinct assessment of French operatic historiography. The foundations of the tragédie en musique are indelibly associated with the court of Louis XIV, and in writings on the genre, both venerable and recent, the specter of absolutist politics looms large. How and to what extent were the lofty ideals of the Bourbon regime reflected in the messier realities of the creation and reception of its public art? In Opera and the Political Imaginary in Old Regime France, Bloechl does not dismiss the oft-discussed links between monarchical rule and the conventions and topics of lyric...

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