chapter  X
15 Pages


WHILE these developments were taking place in Italy, the operatic impulse had penetrated into other countries. Cavalli was commissioned to write a work for the Paris stage, and a short time later Giovanni Battista LulU, a Florentine, took up his residence in the French capital, and speedily succeeded in obtaining a virtual monopoly as purveyor of music to the King of France, Louis XIV, who then occupied the throne. The peculiar conditions prevailing at his court played an important part in deciding the form which French opera was destined to take. At that time all the arts, all forms of activity whatsoever were almost entirely devoted to the glorification of the king and to the gratification of his tastes, sentiments, and desires; and the music of Lulli, like the architecture of Louvois and the painting of Lebrun, was primarily little more than an instrument of flattery, another artistic medium for the payment of fulsome tributes to the radiant and transcendant virtues of the Roi Solei!. The subject-matter of his operas and ballets was often chosen by the king himself who, although he had no ear for music and an execrable voice, was in the habit of joining in when rhapsodies in his honour, thinly disguised as allegory, were introduced.