Jean-Joseph Mouret was a renowned French Baroque composer who had a great singing voice and charming personality. He is famous for his contribution to the world of opera and for introducing comedy in his work. His notable work, Les fêtes, ou Le triomphe de Thalie, was the first opera to use comedy, which was quite controversial at that time.
Mouret was born in Avignon in 1682, and his father was a successful silk merchant and an amateur violinist. Although there is not much information available regarding his education, it is assumed that he received a good education based on his family’s wealth. He probably studied at the Avignon Cathedral, an important regional church and school during his time.
By 1707, Mouret was living in Paris, where he landed his first professional appointment as the master of music for the Marshal of Noailles. He was later invited by the Duke of Maine to become the superintendent of music in Sceaux, where he composed operas and interludes. For the Duchess’ “Grandes Nuits” performance series, he composed allegorical cantatas in the courtly “masque” tradition, which were widely popular.
Mouret was known for his natural inclination towards lighthearted and comedic topics, which brought both controversy and success. As the orchestra director at the Paris Opera, he conducted the premiere performance of Les fêtes, ou Le triomphe de Thalie in August 1714, which revolutionized the world of opera. Despite facing criticism, Mouret’s work proved to be very successful and widely performed.
Mouret continued to compose divertissements for the Comédie-Française in 1716, and in 1717, he was appointed as the composer and director of the Comédie-Italienne. He was later appointed as an ordinaire du Roy as a singer in the king’s chamber. Mouret’s association with the Concerts Spirituel as artistic director with Pierre Simard helped him gain more popularity and success.
Unfortunately, Mouret faced financial and legal problems following the financial crisis at the Concerts Spirituel, which led to his resignation in 1734. After losing every source of income, he began suffering from mental health problems and was consumed with jealousy over Rameau’s success as a composer. Mouret passed away in 1738 at the Frères de la Charité asylum in Charenton-Saint-Maurice.