The comédie-ballet was a spectacular theatrical genre which blossomed in the first year of Louis XIV's absolute rule (1661), flourished under the friendship of king and playwright during that decade (1664-1670), and faded even as Louis turned his attention to the new French opera in the early 1670s. Though it lasted little more than a decade, it stands not only as a unique chapter in Molière's career as a playwright but as a singular style of theatre. Focusing on the topics of male nobility and class tensions, Gretchen Smith examines a unique performance genre in a new way; through its premiere performances in the context of the places, periods, performers, and the semiotics of practical theatre. Through telling the story of the comédies-ballets, the author redefines the Baroque as an era which shaped our post-modern ideas about performance as a social as well as theatrical construct, about magnificence as a commodity and a product to be bought or exported, about the seduction of the public spotlight, and about the political outcome of patronage and art. Her analyses of staging, costume, and décor (among others) add important dimensions that are often neglected or understudied by literary scholars. Grounded in the disciplines of theatre history, literary analysis, semiotics, performance study, and gender studies, this study will also be useful for scholars of French, European and early modern history and literature. It contributes much to our understanding of Molière, the genre of the comédie-ballet, and the various layers of meaning in royal festival theater.