The Early Music Show - Le Balet Comique de la Royne

Logo for The Early Music Show - Le Balet Comique de la Royne

Lucie Skeaping explores the origins of classical ballet, which can be found in the lavish 'balet comique de la royne', an ambitious and influential stage entertainment that was given in Paris, on 15 October 1581 in the court of Catherine de Medici, to celebrate the marriage of the Duc de Joyeuse and Mlle de Vaudemont. It was conceived and directed by Catherine's director of court festivals, Balthasar de Beaujoyeux, who sought to bring together all the art forms - including for the first time, dramatic dance - for a huge allegorical spectacle in the spirit of the ancient Greeks. The verse was by the Sieur de la Chesnaye, the scenery by Patin, and the music by the bass singer Lambert de Beaulieu, Jacques Salmon, and others. Catherine was so pleased with the event that she had all its details meticulously recorded, published and circulated, which is how we have come to know so much about it. In recent years the Swiss-based group Ensemble Elyma and their director Gabriel Garrido have researched and recorded the music of the entertainment, and it is this recording that is featured in the programme. Lucie looks back on the history of the piece, how it was performed, what it looked like and what it meant.