London: Printed for T. Becket, Adelphi Strand, 1781. Item #01359
Everybody Has An Opinion
With First English Translation of Rousseau's "Historically Important" Opera
SHERIDAN, Richard Brinsley. The Critic, Or a Tragedy Rehearsed. A Dramatic Piece in three acts as it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. London: Printed for T. Becket, Adelphi Strand, 1781. [Bound with] The Cunning-Man, A Musical Entertainment, in Two Acts. As it is Performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. Originally written and Composed by Mr. J.J. Rousseau. Imitated, and adapted to his original Music, by Charles Burney. The Second Edition. London: Printed for T. Becket and P.A. de Hondt, 1766.
Fourth edition of The Critic, second edition of The Cunning-Man. Octavo. , 98; , 30, [1, adv.], [1, blank] pp. Engraved title page to The Critic. The Cunning-Man complete with the publisher's notice, dated Nov. 29, 1766, at the end advertising translated works by Rousseau.
Contemporary quarter calf over marbled boards, expertly rebacked to style. With the bookplate of J.S. Bentley to the front paste down endpaper, and that of Thomas Merriman to the front free endpaper. A very good copy.
The Critic was first performed 30 October 1779; the first edition was issued in 1781, this, the fourth edition, was issued later in the same year. The Prologue is by Richard Fitzpatrick. Another huge success for the celebrated dramatist, The Critic is "…an exuberant burlesque on the problems of producing a play. The work under rehearsal by its distraught producer is 'The Spanish Armada', a ludicrous parody of the modish tragic drama of the day… The action of the main play continues with undiminished vivacity to the end" (OCEL). Playwright, producer, and theater manager and owner Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) made his reputation as a dramaturge in 1775 with The Rivals. Success followed success, celebrity ensued, and soon Sheridan bought out actor playwright, and impresario David Garrick's share in the Drury Lane Theatre and became its manager. The fabulous success of his School For Scandal gave him the wherewithal to become the sole proprietor of the Drury Lane Theatre in 1779. He was considered the true heir of Garrick, the most respected and celebrated theatrical personage of his age, and later became a MP.
The Cunning-Man is Charles Burney's translation and adaptation of the libretto and songs to Rousseau's pastoral opera Le Devin du Village (The Village Soothsayer. 1752).
"As with many French operas, Rousseau’s Le devin du village was first staged for the court, appearing at Fountainebleau on 18 October 1752. The work was then performed at the Paris Opéra on 1 March 1753. The historical importance of this short intermè is closely tied to its role in the famous Querelle de bouffons, a debate about the merits of French serious opera in comparison to Italian comic opera (especially Pergolesi’s La serva padrona).
"Rousseau applied the principles of Italian buffo style to Le devin, showing a preference for simple melodies in his airs, and although the subject matter is typical of comic opera’s interest in paysannerie (see Grétry’s Le Huron), the use of recitative explains why Le devin appeared at the Opéra.
"Le devin’s popularity is evident in that it was parodied by the Comédie-Italienne and later arranged in English by Charles Burney. However, Rousseau’s outspoken nature caused problems for him at the Opéra when he wrote an indictment against French opera (titled Lettre sur la musique française) late in 1753. While Rousseau was no longer welcome at the Opéra, Le devin continued to be performed until the early nineteenth century. Berlioz famously criticized the work, though, and argued that Rameau’s music was far superior to Rousseau’s diminutive intermé" (University of North Texas Libraries). The opera became one of the most popular of its day and brought Rousseau both wealth and fame. "Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814), organist, musical historian and minor composer was the friend of Garrick, Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, and many members of aristocrat and literary society. He was the father of [novelist] Fanny Burney" (OCEL).
The Critic: Cf. CBEL II, 819. Cf. Rothschild 1846. Cf. Williams p.222. The Cunning-Man: Sénelier 225. Dufour 48. Classe, Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English, p. 1197.