masque noun \ˈmask\
: a type of play that was performed in the 16th and 17th centuries by actors wearing masks
: a short allegorical dramatic entertainment of the 16th and 17th centuries performed by masked actors
Origin of MASQUE
Middle French masque
— more at mask
First Known Use: 1526
Other Performing Arts Terms
masque noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
Short dramatic entertainment performed by masked actors. It originated in the folk ceremony known as mummery (see mumming play) and evolved into elaborate court spectacles in the 16th–17th centuries. A masque presented an allegorical theme using speeches, dances, and songs, in a performance often embellished with rich costumes and spectacular scenery. The genre reached its height in 17th-century England when the court poet, Ben Jonson, collaborating with Inigo Jones on many notable masques (1605–34), gave it literary force. The masque later developed into opera.
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