This three-volume study considers two major groups of Charpentier's oeuvre: the self-contained musico-dramatic pastorales composed for his pious patroness, the Duchesse de Guise, and others; and the intermèdes and incidental music written for Molière and the Comédie-Française.
The introduction to Volume 1 sets Charpentier in his milieu in late seventeenth-century France and provides a background to the categories of stage work for which he composed.
Chapter 1 discusses the pastorale, its history, the de Guise household, and Charpentier's compositions, and Chapter 2 the intermèdes and incidental music for the Comédie-Française, mentioning the relationship between Molière and Lully, Lully's ordinances, the personnel, and the works. Chapter 3 discusses the music of all these works in five categories (instrumental music, récitatif and ariose, air, ensemble, and choruses) and attempts to draw some conclusions. Volume 1 concludes with an appendix which cites the sources of all the works under discussion, and a bibliography.
The most important contribution of this thesis is the nine complete transcriptions contained in Volumes 2 and 3 (five pastorales in Volume 2 and incidental music for four Comédie-Française productions in Volume 3) along with commentary. In addition, Volume 2 outlines the editorial procedures adopted for the transcriptions and includes comments on such matters as key signatures, time signatures and tempi, and ornamentation.