Fuzelier [Fuselier, Fusellier, Fusillier, Fuzellier], Louis
(b 1672; d Paris, 19 Sept 1752). French dramatist and librettist. He was secretary to the Count d’Estampes from 1709 and was twice co-director of the Mercure de France (1721–4, 1744–52). He wrote or collaborated on more than 230 stage works, and frequently had performances running concurrently at all the significant theatres in Paris. For instance, during the 12 months from Easter 1725, 15 new works by him (seven wholly his own, eight collaborations) as well as five revivals (two wholly his own, three collaborations) were being given at the Comédie Française, the Comédie Italienne, the Opéra and the Théâtre de la Foire.
Though he embraced high culture, Fuzelier was most at home in the informal, unofficial world of the Paris fairs. The bulk of his output consists of vaudevilles, intermèdes and operatic parodies written for the fair theatres of St Germain and St Laurent (where he was also probably a stage director). His first known stage work, Thésée, ou La défaite des Amazones, was written for the marionettes of Betrand and performed at the Foire St Germain on 11 August 1701. A parody of the Lully–Quinault Thésée (1675), it is in three acts, with intermèdes for live actors. His second three-act spectacle for Betrand’s marionettes, Le ravissement d’Hélène, ou Le siège et embrasement de Troie, performed at the Foire St Germain in February 1705, was one of the first to display each character’s text upon large placards (écriteaux): this was a neat circumvention of the ban on dialogues inflicted on the Théâtres de la Foire by their rivals.
In 1716 Fuzelier began a collaboration with Lesage and d’Orneval that lasted 14 years; their best work was collected in the nine-volume Le Théâtre de la Foire, ou L’opéra-comique, published between 1721 and 1737. Parodies of operas, tragedies and comedies were among the most popular works in this immense repertory: Pierrot furieux, 1717 (parodying Lully’s Roland); Arlequin Persée, 1722 (Lully’s Persée); La grand-mère amoureuse, 1726 (Lully’s Atys); Momus exilé, 1725 (Destouches’ Omphale) and Pierrot Tancrède, 1729 (Campra’s Tancrède).
At the end of the 1718 season Riccoboni secured the services of Fuzelier for the Comédie-Italienne, where his first unqualified success was La mode, la meridienne et le may (21 May 1719). He also wrote several pieces for the Comédie-Française, of which the most popular was the one-act comedy Momus fabuliste, ou Les noces de Vulcain (26 September 1719), which was given 63 times. Something of a composer himself, Fuzelier also supplied cantata texts for Stuck, André Campra, Nicolas Bernier and Courbois; but his most important contributions to French high musical culture are the librettos for 13 works performed at the Opéra. In the opéras-ballets of this group he portrayed the regency of Philip of Orleans with a touch of cynicism; they are devoid of sentimentality. Les âges (to music by Campra, 1718) gives Fuzelier’s view of opéra-balle librettos in its Avertissement: ‘I have attempted only to weave some playful maxims into a light intrigue which can occasion the use of graceful airs and varied dances. This, it seems to me, should constitute the basis of a ballet [i.e. an opéra-ballet]’.
Fuzelier introduced the ballet héroique to the lyric stage via Blamont’s Les fêtes grecques et romaines (1723), a ‘completely new type of ballet’, according to its preface. But the most important example of the genre is Rameau and Fuzelier’s Les Indes galantes (1735–6; the two men may well have become acquainted during Rameau’s collaboration with Piron at the Théâtres de la Foire in the 1720s). In the prefaces to his librettos for the Opéra, Fuzelier constantly justified his unusual subject matter and novel stage effects. For his Persian comedy La reine de Péris (music by Aubert, 1725) he claimed he consulted works in the ‘Oriental Library’ of ‘M. de Herbelot’; and the earthquake in the second entrée, ‘Les Incas du Pérou’, of Les Indes galantes is supported by references to discussions with ‘many esteemed travellers’ and with ‘the most skilful naturalists’. But he could also make telling use of contemporary writers without drawing attention to so doing: witness the presence of aspects of Louis de la Hontan’s Dialogues curieux entre l’auteur et un sauvage de bon sens (1703) and of the New World volume of Jean-Frédéric Bernard’s Cérémonies et costumes religieuses (1723) in ‘Les sauvages’, the entrée he added to Les Indes galantes in 1736. There they provided a context for Rameau to base a big peace-pipe ensemble on the harpsichord morceau he had written a decade before on seeing two native Americans dancing in Paris.
ES (G.C. Roscioni) [incl. list of theatre pieces]
GroveO (J.R. Anthony, R. Savage) [incl. list of works perf. at the Paris Opéra]
I.N.de Francini and others, eds.: Recueil général des opéra representez par l’Académie Royale de Musique, depuis son établissement, ii, iii (Paris, 1703–45/R) [incl. Fuzelier’s prefaces to operas]
A.-R.Lesage and d’Orneval: Le Théâtre de la Foire, ou L’opéra-comique (Paris, 1721–37) [incl. 43 pieces by Fuzelier]
Les parodies du nouveau théâtre italien, ou Recueil des parodies représentées sur le théâtre de l’Hôtel de Bourgogne, par les Comediens italiens ordinaires du roy (Paris, 1731–8, 2/1738/R) [incl. ‘Discours à l’occasion d’un discours de M. D.L.M. sur les parodies’ by Fuzelier]
F.J.Carmody: Le répertoire de l’opéra-comique en vaudevilles de 1708 à 1764 (Berkeley, 1933)
D.Trott: ‘Louis Fuzelier et le théâtre: vers un état présent’, Revue d’histoire littéraire de la France, lxxxiii (1983), 604–17
D.Trott: ‘Pour une histoire des spectacles non-officiels: Louis Fuzelier et le théâtre à Paris en 1725–26’, Revue de la Société d’histoire du théâtre, xxxvii (1985), 255–75
P.Vendrix, ed.: L’opéra-comique en France au XVIIIe siècle (Liège, 1992)
JAMES R. ANTHONY, ROGER SAVAGE
An onomatopoeic term derived from the sound distortion created by a signal processor unit that simulates the sound from an overdriven amplifier by altering the waveform of the signal fed into it from a pickup. It is generally operated by means of a foot-pedal. SeeElectric guitar.