Enchantment in Baroque Festive Court Performances in France: Les Plaisirs de L’Isle Enchantée

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 65)


Extraordinary manifestations displaying the grandeur of the kings reached their height in the seventeenth-century “fêtes de cour baroques,” such as Les Plaisirs de l’isle enchantée performed from May 7, 1664, and spilling over in baroque fashion, until May 14, 1664. This “fête” inaugurated the opening of Versailles, the former hunting lodge of Louis XIII, as the “Palais enchanté” of Louis XIV, a palace “qui charme en toutes manières”.1 Officially, this fête de cour was in honor of the Queen Mother Anne d’Autriche and Louis XIV’s wife Marie-Thérèse, but everyone knew it was for his mistress Mlle de la Vallière. These performances highlighted the artistic collaboration of the author-actor Molière, the composer Lully, the ballet choreographer Beauchamps, the verse creator Benserade, the machine designer Vigarani, and singers, dancers, musicians and spectators as performers. Louis XIV appointed the Duc de Saint Aignan to create a living and dynamic unity between the various entertainments and to integrate them into the parklike outdoor setting.


Sense Experience Creative Artist Creative Genius Magic Ring Sacred Center 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Molière, “Les Plaisirs de l’isle enchantée ”, Oeuvres complètes,vol. III (Paris: Payot, 1927), p. 237. All further references to this edition will be included in parentheses in the text.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Philippe Beaussant, Lully ou le musicien du soleil (Paris: Gallimard,1992), p. 317.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Louis XIV, Mémoires, ed. Jean Longnon (Paris: Jules Tallandier, 1978 ), p. 134.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Philippe Beaussant, Versailles, Opéra ( Paris: Gallimard, 1981 ), p. 65.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Beaussant, Versailles, Opéra,p. 74.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See E. Léonardy, “Les Fêtes de cour baroques”, Questionnement du baroque,ed. Alphonse Vermeylen (Louvain-la-Neuve: Collège Erasme, 1986), pp. 113–152 for a discussion of the “esprit chevaleresque” and a comparison of the Austrian “fête de cour” celebrating the marriage of Leopold I and Les Plaisirs de l’isle enchantée. Rulers of European countries looked for inspiration in the “fêtes de cour baroques” of other European countries. They then relied on freedom, imagination, and creative genius to attempt to outshine the others.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Leonardy, p. 124.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Leonardy, p. 135.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bernard Chédozeau, Le Baroque ( Paris: Nathan, 1989 ), p. 107.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Marie-Christine Moine, Les Fêtes à la Cour du Roi-Soleil 1653–1715 ( Paris: Lanore, 1984 ), pp. 21–25.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Moine, pp. 11–12. Louis XIV was born twenty-six years after the marriage of Anne d’Autriche and Louis XIII. He was considered a special gift from God. See Robert Isherwood, Music in the Service of the King (Ithaca: Cornell, 1973), pp. 162–169, for a discussion of mythological imagery and Apollo.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Quoted by Mark Franko, Dance as Text (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 2. See pp. 1–14 for the construction of the baroque body in dance and pp. 108–132 for an analysis of Les Facheux and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jean Chevalier and Main Gheerbrant, Dictionnaire des symboles (Paris: Laffont/Jupiter, 1969), pp. 645–649. See also arbre, île,and jardin.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Beaussant, Versailles, Opéra, pp. 33–39. The pavan is also a slow stately court dance performed by couples. Fencing, horseback riding, and dancing were the foundation of the French nobleman’s formation. For a discussion of Louis XIV and dance, see Regine Astier, “Louis XIV, Premier Danseur”, Sun King, David Rubin ed. ( Washington: Folger, 1992 ), pp. 73–99.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See Louis E. Auld, “The Music of the Spheres in the Comedy-Ballets”, L’Esprit Créateur,Fall 1966, pp. 176–187 for a discussion of universal harmony and the relationship of music and dance in Molière’s comedy-ballets. Cassiodorus, in Institutiones (c. 550–562), relates music and dance to universal harmony. He writes: “The discipline of music is diffused through all the actions of our life…. Music is indeed the knowledge of apt modulations… dancing in time… when we commit injustice we are without music”, p. 178.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Henri Prunières, quoted in Stephen Fleck, Music, Dance, Laughter,p. 9, views comedy- ballet as a “genre très particulier, caractérisé par l’association étroite à l’action non seulement d’épisodes lyriques plus ou moins développés, mais surtout de scènes de pantomime et de danses rythmées par la musique”.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani, Eros baroque ( Paris: Union Générale d’Éditions, 1979 ), p. 44.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    See Mathieu-Castellani, pp. 9–48 for a discussion of the characteristics of Baroque love, its mythological figures, its pleasures and games, its portraits, and the places of Baroque passion.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mathieu-Castellani, p. 44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Michigan UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations