In the mid-eighteenth century, comic opera librettos served a dual purpose, as evinced by the libretto to Vadé ’s Trompeur trompé (1754). Although the primary function of the publication was to allow audience members to follow along with the text of the opera, solo airs were printed in the back of the book. Not all the melodies are included, but those printed in the libretto enhance our understanding of an opera the music of which was never published as a comprehensive musical score.
Jean-Joseph Vadé’s popularity as a composer and librettist is evident in the publication of his collected works, which first appeared in 1755 but was expanded in 1758, a year after his death. Vadé’s œuvre consists of mostly opéras comiques, some with original music rather than preexisting tunes. The collected works editions include fictional correspondence and poetry. Vadé’s interest in capturing the bustling atmosphere of fish markets is evident in such works as Les quatre bouquets poissards and the poem La pipe cassée, which is classified as a “poëme epitragipoissardiheroicomique.” Melodies for operatic airs are also printed in this volume. Although Vadé claimed authorship of the music, some were familiar tunes that had existed before Vadé appropriated them.
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.
Creator: Vade, M. (Jean Joseph), 1719-1757 & Destouches, M. (André Cardinal), 1672-1749