This new study brings together visual images and scholarly discussion of Le Ballet de la Nuit a major ballet de cour organised by Louis de Hesselin and first performed in the Louvre’s Salle du Petit Bourbon in 1653. Le Ballet de la Nuit was notable for many reasons: most prominent among them was the involvement of the young Louis XIV who danced in five different roles including his most famous role as the Sun King accompanied by chosen courtiers and professional dancers singers and acrobats.
The present publication focuses on the exquisitely produced volume presented to de Hesselin (who also performed in the work), which passed into the hands of the Rothschild family at Waddesdon Manor, and is now in the ownership of the National Trust. The contents of the Waddesdon source are reproduced in facsimile, together with the printed vers pour les personages, lists of performers, cues for special effects, and the running order of the entrées. They are accompanied by essays by Michael Burden, Catherine Massip, David Parrott, and Jennifer Thorp which interpret and discuss cultural patronage at the Court of Louis XIV, the musical context, dances and dancers, and the costumes and scenography of this unique and extraordinary ballet, while Lionel Sawkins provides a modern edition of the surviving music.
An archivist and dance historian with a particular interest in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century dance for court and theatre in France and England. For a number of years she performed in baroque ensembles and opera productions in the UK, USA, and Europe, and taught baroque theatre dance at Middlesex University, Bedford Campus. She has contributed numerous articles to academic journals and works of reference, and has a long-standing research interest in the careers of the dancing-masters Mr Isaac and Anthony L’Abbé, and in other French dancers who worked in London between 1660 and 1760. Her edition of F. Le Roussau’s manuscript collection of New Ball- and Stage Dances of 1720 was published in 2008, and she is currently working on a book-length study of Mr Isaac. Michael Burden:
Fellow in Music at New College, and Reader in Opera Studies in the University. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, and his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. He has served on the Council of the Royal Musical Association, is a patron member of the American Society for Eighteenth-century Studies, a trustee of Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), and is currently serving as President of the British Society for 18th-century Studies.
His research interests are centered on the history of the London stage 1660 to 1860, and beyond, with an emphasis on staging techniques and processes in opera, and on the performance of dance. Much of his published research is on the music of Henry Purcell. Some of his research has resulted in stagings of newly recovered works, most recently of Francesco Cavalli’s Erismena, for which he produced a new edition of the score and directed the performances. He is a member of both the Scientific and Editorial Committees for the new complete Stradella edition, ETS Pisa, and of the Scientific Committee of the complete John Eccles edition, A-R Editions, Wisconsin. With Jennifer Thorp, he organises the annual Oxford Dance Symposium, now over a decade old.