When Vadé’s first opera comique, La fileuse, appeared at the Foire St Germain on 8 March 1752, the tragic opera that it parodied—Destouches’s Omphale (1701)—had recently been criticized by Friedrich Melchior Grimm in his “Lettre sur Omphale.” Soon after this attack on “bad taste” in French music, the Querelle des Bouffons heated up, with debates about the merits of Italian comic opera versus French serious opera. Many mid-eighteenth-century French comic parodies were based on familiar serious operas, but following the Querelle des Bouffons, lyrical Italianate melodies were incorporated into the opera comique genre. Vadé’s La fileuse follows the older model of reworking existing tunes to new texts, including a vaudeville finale; later in his career, he composed some original airs.
This collection of songs from the pantomime "Harlequin Sorcerer" and the play "The Oracle" are scored for various voice types with obbligato instruments and basso continuo (with figured bass). A "Mrs. Cibber" is credited prominently on the title page. Some songs also have alternate parts for the solo line (conflating obbligato and vocal parts) for German flute (sometimes simply designated as "Flute").