Item #10978 L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist. Mystère.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.
POPULAR THEATER FROM ORALITY TO PRINT

L’incarnacion & natiuite de nostre saulveur et redempteur Jesuchrist.

[Rouen or possibly Paris, Baptiste Bourguet] about 1495/6.

Folio (271 x 192 mm.). CCxxviii leaves. Bâtarde and Gothic type, figured woodcut calligraphic initial L (69 x 40 mm.).

Blind-ruled brown morocco over heavy boards (Francisque Cuzin; short crack at the top of the front hinge), gilt-lettered title on the front panel, old blue edges.

FIRST EDITION OF THE MYSTERY PLAY MOUNTED IN ROUEN AT CHRISTMASTIME 1474 ON THIRTY-ONE TIMBER STAGES IN THE MARKET SQUARE. The primary platforms — all bearing signs — represented Paradise, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Syria, Rome, Hell and Limbo. Over two days, seventy-eight amateur actors recited the 15,000 verses, livened by burlesque, violence, the sublime and some dozen musical interludes.
                “THIS PLAY…GIVES MORE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR PERFORMANCE THAN ANY OTHER” (Brown). It dictates actors’ movements and positions, the painted backdrops and the type, color and location of fixed furniture. The elaborate stage machinery included an immense dragon’s head (Hell) whose jaws opened and closed for the damned, serpents and flames shooting from its nostrils, eyes and ears.
               THE MYSTÈRE’S POSITION IN MUSIC HISTORY IS MOST REMARKABLE. “HERE IS THE EARLIEST DESCRIPTION I HAVE ENCOUNTERED THAT IS CERTAINLY OF VOICES AND INSTRUMENTS WORKING TOGETHER IN WHAT ARE CLEARLY POLYPHONIC CHANSONS” (Fallows). The printer left space for the musical notation to be supplied in manuscript. The layout of text and incipits confirms the music belonged to the chansonnier repertoire, while detailed performance notes indicate vocalists took their pitch from the instrumentalists and performed simultaneously with them in at least one three-part chanson.
                THIS IS THE ONLY ROUEN MYSTERY PLAY TO BE PRINTED IN THE 15TH CENTURY. It amused generations of illiterate townsfolk, farmers and traders, who paid their admission to participate in two days of “living history”. The printer, however, gambled that the educated wealthy would buy this luxurious folio, enticed in part by marginal references to the sources underpinning the plot and dialog. Two other complete examples survive (BnF and La Vallière-Ste.-Genéviève; the Soleinne-Vienna copy lacks the first leaf). None has manuscript music.
            Active from about 1495 to 1499, Baptiste Bourguet’s press is known from seven editions, six in unique examples (all in Paris). With one hundred twenty-four edition-sheets, that offered here is by far the most ambitious. Another one has seven, and the remaining five one sheet each. Both Claudin and the British Museum Catalogue favor Rouen as Bourguet’s place of activity.
            In good condition (oil spots on nine leaves, slightly foxed, one bifolium more so); from the library of Ernest Daguin, who commissioned the binding (Catalogue 4e pte. (1905) 1291 “Livre des plus précieux” & pl. 51).
¶ISTC im00884100; GW M25773; CIBN M-560; Claudin, Histoire de l’imprimerie en France au XVe…siècle II: 336-40 “fort précieux”.
Brown, Music in the French Secular Theater, 1400-1550 18, 42-53, 98; Douhet, Dictionnaire des Mystères 523-29; Fallows, “Specific Information on the Ensembles for Composed Polyphony, 1400-1474” in Studies in the Performance of Late Medieval Music ed. Borman 109-159; Ferrari et al., The Staging of Religious Drama in Europe 6-7, 80, 90, 92, 157-158; Frank, The Medieval French Drama 172-73 & 189-91; Handschin, “Das Weihnachts-Mysterium von Rouen” in Acta Musicologica 7 (1935) 97-110 (groundbreaking); Happé, Cyclic Form and the English Mystery Plays 165-66; Runnalls, Les Mystères français imprimés 8a & pp. 12-15, 31, 61-63; Soleinne, Bibliothèque dramatique (1844) 533 “Rarissime” (now ÖNB); Tydeman, The Medieval European Stage 9-12, 282-84, 291-92, 310-11, 320-21.

Item #10978

Price: $135,000.00

Status: On Hold