By the time Jean-Georges Noverre made history with his Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets, the idea of dramatic ballet was already in the air. In contrast to the earlier ballet de cour, arias and recitatives were now no longer integrated, thus, the narrative, textless action required a new chronicler. By replacing the written poem, music not only filled in this gap as the link between dramatic thought and danced expression but was responsible for ensuring overall formal coherence. Noverre’s dancers were meant to give meaning to the musically rooted ideas through their “lively and animated physiognomy.” It is this division of labor that distinguishes the ballet d’action from the staged melodrama, which was developed at roughly the same time. Since eighteenth-century melodrama depended on the word to transmit meaning, music was free to concentrate on “breathing life” into the action, a function broadly reserved for dance in ballet en action. Nonetheless, the common aesthetic roots of ballet en action and the melodrama led to similar solutions for central questions pertaining to the relationship between art and nature, between the combinations of the various art forms, as well as to the difficulty of maintaining continuity over an extended period of time.