La belle Arsène

La belle Arsène (1773) is a French opéra comique by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny to a libretto by Charles-Simon Favart. The opera was first performed on 6 November 1773 in three acts by the Comédiens Italiens ordinaires du Roi before Louis XV at the Palace of Fontainebleau. This version was published in 1773 as comédie-féerie en trois actes, mêlée d'ariettes. A revised version in 4 acts was presented on 14 August 1775 by the same company at their theatre in Paris, the Hôtel de Bourgogne. From the 1776 edition onwards it is always described as "in four acts." [1][2]

Painting by Pehr Hilleström which shows act III, scene VIII from the Opera. Performed in Stockholm in 1779.

The opera was the first to have excerpts sung in the air - thanks to Élisabeth Thible, the first woman aeronaut, who, dressed as Minerva, sung impromptu arias from the opera to an audience below her including Gustav III, from a Montgolfier balloon in 1784.


  1. ^ Théâtre choisi de Favart Page 79 1809 "BELLE ARSÈNE, COMEDIE-FEERIE EN QUATRE ACTES ET EN VERS, MÊLÉE D'ARIETTES. Représentée devant Leurs Majestés , par les Comédiens Italiens ordinaires du Roi, à Fontainebleau, le 6 novembre 1773. Seryiet aternum qui parvo nesciet uti."
  2. ^ Wild & Charlton 2005, pp. 161.