Sept. 26: Theatre Circle presents Dr. Alison Calhoun on Molière’s Imaginary Invalid

Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

“‘This Fatal Marriage’: The Critique of Opera in Molière’s Imaginary Invalid”

Molière’s Imaginary Invalid draws a very fine line between fact and fiction, since it not only presents illness and dying as its subject matter, it has gone down in the history of theater as the play during which its dramatist, playing the title role, met his own death. But Molière’s final performance was not just brought about because of bad health. His fame and the future of his comedies were also severely threatened by his once collaborator, turned rival, the opera composer Lully. This talk will look at how the more obvious subject matter of quack doctors and ridiculous medicine doubled as a clever strike at Lully and the rise of opera.

Dr. Alison Calhoun, Department of French & Italian

Dr. Alison Calhoun, Department of French & Italian

Alison Calhoun is Assistant Professor of French in IU’s Department of French and Italian. Her research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of the Renaissance and extends to the 17th and 18th centuries to study genre, reception (theater), and morality. Her approach is interdisciplinary (philosophy and literature, music and literature) and often fits into the categories of history of the book, reception theory, and genre studies. Her forthcoming book, A Transverse Self: Montaigne and the Lives of the Philosophers, situates Montaigne and Diogenes Laertius in the history of life writing in the Renaissance and Classical Age in France.

In Calhoun’s latest research project, Motion and Emotion in Early Modern French Drama, she explores the reading, staging and stagecraft of composite drama (court ballet, machine plays, comedy-ballets, and opera). With key authors like Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx, Honorat de Bueil de Racan, Honoré D’Urfé, Jean Mairet, Pierre Corneille, Isaac de Benserade and Philippe Quinault, she aims to show that the libretto, parallel to and concurrently with the novel, trained readers not only to imagine greater fictional possibilities than before, but also to feel (sometimes to practice) more diverse emotions.

Prof. Alison Calhoun presents Practice as Research Performance of Scenes from Jean-Baptiste Lully with Jacobs School of Music

Lully: Glory without Love?

Scenes from the operas and comedy ballets of Jean-Baptiste Lully

Saturday, April 21, & Sunday, April 22, at 4:00 pm
Auer Hall (Located on the second floor of the Simon Music Center, 200 S. Jordan Ave.)

Lully Opera Rehearsal

A rehearsal from Lully: Glory without Love?

A Co-production of IU Baroque Orchestra, Pro Arte Singers, IU Ballet Department, and the Early Music Institute
The delights of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s magical dances, airs, recitatives and triumphant marches will be on display in Auer Hall this weekend as the Early Music Institute, Jacobs School Ballet Department and Pro Arte Singers combine forces to present Lully: Glory Without Love?

A rehearsal for “Lully: Glory Without Love?”

With an original script by guest actor Mace Perlman, baroque choreography by guest stage director Catherine Turocy and music direction by Nigel North, the program weaves together scenes chosen from the most poignant moments in the composer’s operas and comedy-ballets Psyché, Alceste, Armide, Atys, Isis, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Bellérophon.

For this production, the Early Music Institute has brought together two outside professionals to work with students on artistic expression specific to the French seventeenth century.

Catherine Turocy, leading choreographer, reconstructor, and stage director in 17th-18th century period performance. | Photo by Beatriz Schiller.

Choreographer and period movement expert Turocy, director of the New York Baroque Dance Company, has worked with ballet students and singers in the art of early French dance, gesture and pantomime. She has also provided a number of elaborate period costumes, which will be used by dancers during this production.

By weaving Lully’s music into one moving story about the impossible tension between love and glory, Perlman has created a staging for the production, with inspiration from the diverse masks of the commedia dell’arte. His collection of Venetian commedia masks will also be featured.

Lully, love and power are three key words that combine to create Lully: Glory Without Love? From the allegory of Glory herself to such diverse characters as Armida, Renaud, Fury and Italian and Spanish lovers; from suicidal scenes, dream scenes, triumphant marches and the wonders of Lully’s passacaille, this production will present what Perlman has called the “many eyes of Lully’s life and art.”

With talented student soloists, a full baroque orchestra, the choral strengths of the Pro Arte Singers, the masterful baroque choreography of Turocy and the commedia dell’arte-inspired staging of Perlman, audiences will be offered a unique and powerful experience that captures the essence of the French baroque.

Nigel North, Music Director
Stage Direction by Catherine Turocy and Mace Perlman
Choreography by Catherine Turocy
Spoken Narration by Mace Perlman
Production Concept, Alison Calhoun

Nigel North, music director
Mace Perlman, stage director and writer/text and language coach/actor
Catherine Turocy, stage director/choreographer/period movement coach
Alison Calhoun, production concept, French diction coach
Paul Elliott Director, Early Music Institute, vocal coach
William Jon Gray, Director, Pro Arte Singers
Juan Carlos Zamudio, Assistant Director, Pro Arte Singers
Sarah Edgar, assistant choreographer
Rachel Fernandez, stage manager

Dr. Alison Calhoun, Department of French & Italian

Dr. Alison Calhoun, Assistant Professor of French & Italian

Alison Calhoun is Assistant Professor of French in IU’s Department of French and Italian. Her research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of the Renaissance and extends to the 17th and 18th centuries to study genre, reception (theater), and morality. Her approach is interdisciplinary (philosophy and literature, music and literature) and often fits into the categories of history of the book, reception theory, and genre studies. Her forthcoming book, A Transverse Self: Montaigne and the Lives of the Philosophers, situates Montaigne and Diogenes Laertius in the history of life writing in the Renaissance and Classical Age in France.

In Calhoun’s latest research project, Motion and Emotion in Early Modern French Drama, she explores the reading, staging and stagecraft of composite drama (court ballet, machine plays, comedy-ballets, and opera). With key authors like Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx, Honorat de Bueil de Racan, Honoré D’Urfé, Jean Mairet, Pierre Corneille, Isaac de Benserade and Philippe Quinault, she aims to show that the libretto, parallel to and concurrently with the novel, trained readers not only to imagine greater fictional possibilities than before, but also to feel (sometimes to practice) more diverse emotions.

Alison Calhoun on the dramaturgy of French Classical Tragedy

Alison Calhoun is an ACLS New Faculty fellowship recipient and visiting professor in Indiana University’s Department of French and Italian. Now that her end of her fellowship term is approaching, she is competing with her fellow fellows for a tenure track position in FRIT. This job talk is a tool to give her department and the university an idea of her reserach topics, teaching methods, and connection with the university. I imagine it will be ~1 hour lecture with some interaction aimed at an audience familiar with, but not necessarily expert in French/Early Modern Theatre.

Alison is also producing an authentic French Court Ballet with the Early Music Program at IU Jacobs School of Music in April. I find her delightful and highly recommend both events:

Set design for Act 5 of Pierre Corneille's Andromède

A postcard featuring  the set design for Act V of Pierre Corneille’s Andromède as first performed on 1 February 1650 by the Troupe Royale at the Petit-Bourbon in Paris. [1]

“French Classical Tragedy in the Face of Italian Stagecraft: The Case of Corneille’s Andromède”

A job talk by Dr. Alison Calhoun

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 | 4:00 pm
Oak Room, Indiana Memorial Union

Lecture followed by reception

After two overwhelmingly successful Italian operas adorned the Parisian stages in 1645 (La Finta Pazza) and 1647 (Orfeo), Mazarin commissioned Pierre Corneille to write a tragedy in French that made use of Orfeo’s stage machines and also included music.  Although Corneille was willing to work within these constraints, creating a play with undeniably marvelous sets and machines, he refused to make his audience suspend their disbelief to the extent of the Italian dramatists, whose operas appeared to have no regard for the rules of classical drama. In this light, Andromède (1650) is an emblematic example of a play incorporating textual strategies that both attenuate and unify the musical and spectacular elements on stage.

This presentation will illustrate how Corneille appropriated Italian stagecraft in the composition of Andromède without ignoring the rules of verisimilitude and decorum, by textually guiding his spectator to accept greater forms of marvel and spectacle. In the process, Corneille extended the strict limits of classical tragedy and, in a larger context, broadened the boundaries of Early Modern fiction.

If you have a disability and need assistance, accommodations can be made to meet most needs. Please call 855-5458 or e-mail fritdept@indiana.edu.

Dr. Alison Calhoun, Department of French & Italian

Dr. Alison Calhoun, ACLS Fellow in French & Italian


ALISON CALHOUN received her PhD degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 and is currently an American Council of Learned Scholars New Faculty Fellow in the Department of French and Italian at Indiana University. Before coming to IU, she was a postdoctoral lecturer at Université de Paris Diderot (Paris VII) and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pomona College.  She has published on the Tragédie en musique, and has been the Stage Director for three operas. Dr. Calhoun is a candidate for the position of Assistant Professor of French in the Department of French and Italian.

[1] Image from Deierkauf-Holsboer, S.W. L’histoire De La Mise En Scene Dans Le Theatre Francais a Paris De 1600 a 1673. – Paris: Nizet (1960). 165 S., Xx Taf. 4°: French & European Pubns, 1960.