There is no need to hide the fact that opera is such a specific genre that it seems impossible to pass by it. The premiere of the opera Le devin du village by Jean-Jacques Rousseau was held on 18 October 1752 at the Royal Opera in Versailles. In addition, this writer and great philosopher actually became the forerunner of the comic opera in France.
He created the orchestral score within three weeks and intended to use it for the Parisian opera, but this did not happen and the final show took place at the royal court in Versailles.
He composed Le devin du village to his own text in Italian ‘intermezzo’ style under the influence of guest appearances of the Italian opera troupe, which presented Pergolesi’s opera La serva padrona. He replaced the recitatives with spoken texts, as he considered that, unlike in Italian, the accented melody of the French language is not suitable for ‘declamated’ singing, that French is not a language for artistic singing. The outrage of the French opinion was obvious. As if it were not enough, he also criticised the pathos of French music. But philosophers, it seems, can say more… Finally, on 1 March 1753, Le devin du village was also presented at the Paris Opera. It was received with great enthusiasm and enjoyed great success for a long time.
There is no denying that Jean-Jacques Rousseau achieved a significant place in history rather as a philosopher than a composer. However, he liked, valued and supported comic opera, and this is a significant and eloquent feature, not so common among philosophers!
Jean-Jacques Rousseau in a painting by François Guérin