Scene Design at the Court of Louis XIV - The Work of the Vigarani Family and Jean Berain

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This study adds another insight into the period of Luis XIV – that the confluence of the theatrical arts from older traditions developed to shape a distinctly French style which all pertained to the glorification of the Sun King. While previous studies have stressed the literary and musical side of the performances of the period, this study examines the settings and scene designs which completed the picture for the mythologies. Besides giving an account of the festivities of Versailles and setting them in their social environment, this work relates the spectacles to the political and social milieu, incorporating both contemporary literary theory and cultural history.


“While the importance of the Vigaranis and Berain has long been acknowledged, there has been no study that examines their designs in detail and establishes the importance of their role….Not only does this study provide a good overview of the theatrical design in the late seventeenth century, also it illuminates the forces that were at work within the Court and elsewhere and goes far in clarifying the taste and intrigues of the period.” – Oscar G. Brockett, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, The University of Texas at Austin

“Examining a pivotal period in French scene design, Professor Tollini’s work reveals the enormous creative strides possible when great talent, vast patronage, and a self-consciously innovative style intersect.” – Thomas Turley, Professor of European History, Santa Clara University

“The Sun King staged life. He brought in the Vigaranis, Italian scenographer-architects, and then Jean Berain to create a theatre of theatres: at the Tuileries, at the Louvre, at Versailles, at the Paris Opera. It is the supreme moment in French baroque mise-en-scène. When Jean Berain succeeded Carlo Vigarani, it was he who shaped the distinctive French style. No one documents the Vigarani-to-Berain transition more meticulously and cogently than Frederick Tollini. His illustrations alone tell the story.” – Dunbar H. Ogden, Professor Emeritus, Department of Theatre, University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Introduction; Preface
1. The Vigaranis in Paris
2. Carlo Vigarani at Versailles
3. Vigarani Designs for Opera
4. Jean Berain at the Palais Royal
Concluding Note
Appendix: List of Vigarani and Berain Productions
Bibliography; Index

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