Kenley, McDowell E. "Mad fools and the Praise of Folly: matassins and the ballets of Lully, Destouches and Campra (1660-1718)." Early Music 45, no. 3 (August 2017): 445-457.
Mad fools and buffoons called matassins performed comic dances in pantomime and were sometimes portrayed in French ballet. There is confusion concerning their identity and the choreography they performed, in particular whether they were humorous figures or warlike sword dancers. The entertainers known as matassins may have come to France in association with the commedia dell’arte, and the first printed music bearing the title ‘matassin’ appeared in France (Guillaume Morlaye, 1552). Matassins appear along with commedia dell’arte characters or in commedia-derived scenes in ballets. Among these are ballet intermèdes composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully for performance between the acts of the first Paris performance of Francesco Cavalli’s opera Xerxes (1660), intermèdes tightly integrated with the action in Molière and Lully’s comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac (1669), and Lully’s tragédie- and comédie-ballet Psyché (1670). They also performed in André Campra’s ballet pastiche Les fragments de Monsieur de Lully (1702), as well as Campra’s opéra-ballet Les Âges (1718), and André Cardinal Destouches and Houdar de la Motte’s comédie-ballet Le Carnaval et la Folie (1703), which were both based directly or indirectly on Desiderius Erasmus’s Praise of Folly.