To escape from a profession he disliked he joined a troupe of comedians playing in the courts of the northern sovereigns. In 1758 the performance of his Titus, which had already been produced in Saint St. Petersburg, was postponed through his uncle"s exertions. And when it did appear, a hostile cabal procured its failure, and it was not until after his guardians death that de Belloy returned to Paris with Zelmire (1762), a fantastic drama which met with great success, latter becoming an opera by Rossini.
This was followed in 1765 by the patriotic play, Le Siège de Calais.
The humiliations undergone by France in the Seven Years" War assured a good reception for a play in which the devotion of Frenchmen redeemed disaster. The popular enthusiasm was unaffected by the judgment of calmer critics such as Diderot and Voltaire, who pointed out that the glorification of France was not best effected by a picture of defeat.
De Belloy was admitted to the Académie française in 1772 due to his activities as a playwright. He remains the only actor to have ever held a seat on the Academy.
His attempt to introduce national subjects into French drama deserves honor, but it must be confessed that his resources proved unequal to the task.
The Le Siège de Calais was followed by Gaston di Bayard (1771), Pedro le cruel (1772) and Gabrielle de Vergy (1777).