Music for the stage has always been embedded in a network of power relationships between states, impresarios, librettists, artists, entrepreneurs, and composers. This article seeks to understand and explain how these relationships functioned in the period when French music drama was subject to a system of licenses, 1806–64. At the center of the inquiry are institutional structures and their relationship to those responsible for both the creation and the cultivation of stage music in the period. They explain the context for the cultural agents and products not only of the main opera houses in nineteenth-century Paris—the Opéra, the Opéra-Comique, and the Théâtre-Italien—but also of the host of smaller, shorter-lived institutions that supported and promoted opera during the period.
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