From Plantation to Paradise?
Cultural Politics and Musical Theatre in French Slave Colonies, 1764–1789
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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List of Illustrations
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Paradise? In all colonial theatres, an upper section, Paradis pour les gens de couleur (“Paradise for Colored People”), was reserved for a select portion of the free nonwhite population who seemed to have been absorbed into French culture.1 To receive permission to attend the theatre was regarded as a very high privilege for any nonwhite...
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The journey of research for the present study was far-reaching, leading me down an ever-winding path, and I am extremely grateful for the support of several individuals and institutions during this long voyage. I am especially indebted to three music scholars who gave me their unwavering support, constantly and...
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Is it possible that the color barrier in opera was broken over two centuries ago—and in a slave colony? The concept is quite amazing, for how and why did such a phenomenon occur in a place in which the institution of slavery was such a thriving enterprise? To what extent did the politics of a European empire impact the...
Chapter 1. Establishment of Colonial Hierarchy
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The history of music in European colonial systems provides us with much valuable information about peoples of these territories. However, we know very little to date about how European colonial powers used their own performing-art forms (opera, court ballet, theatre, and symphony) within the colonies to...
Chapter 2. Politics and Power
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The power of the French colonial empire can be broken down into three categories—religious, military, and political. Each category had its own musical repertoire that, in turn, reflected the three goals of the cultural political campaign—to maintain the peace, to ensure absolute respect for the social hierarchy, and to...
Chapter 3. Colonial Society at the Theatre
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French composers, writers, and patrons of the arts frequently discussed and wrote numerous essays and treatises on the calming influence of music on the soul. They defined their music as delicate, refined, and culturally uplifting— attributes that, they deemed, had an extremely positive influence on the listener. Official....
Chapter 4. Introducing the Stars
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As discussed above, slaves were very useful in strengthening the economy of colonial society by filling various occupations. They were also well prepared for performing in concerts and operas, for they had been thoroughly trained in the galant dances of the French court and had learned a variety of musical techniques from
Chapter 5. Breaking through the Barrier
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Throughout the early stages of theatre development in Port-au-Prince, performances continued with some irregularity, primarily due to several changes in directorship. However, conditions changed dramatically under the stewardship of François Saint-Martin, an actor, singer, and entrepreneur. He was appointed director of the...
Chapter 6. The Escape from Reality Continues
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In the two decades preceding the French Revolution, colonial authorities continued to search for ways to ensure that citizens “taste the fruits of peace” similar to that enjoyed by those living in France, as espoused by the regent of France at the beginning of the eighteenth century. They recognized that encouraging and...
Chapter 7. Finale: The Beginning of the End
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Throughout the 1780s, that glorious decade of colonial theatre, interest in black creole culture increased dramatically. The creole patois—with its strong ties to African culture—was prominently featured in theatres throughout Saint- Domingue. Equally significant, the increasing popularity of creole productions occurred...
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Paradise? That cruelly provocative institution was dismantled, mentally as well as physically, by the same group of people for which it was created. It engendered hostilities between all sectors of the population. In Cap Français, mothers, négresses libres (free black women), were pitted against their daughters when they...
Appendix 1. Glossary
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Appendix 2. “La Fauvette” (The Warbler)
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Appendix 3. Moreau: Effects of Miscegenation
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Appendix 4. Descriptions of Colonial Theatres
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On représenta Dimanche dernier pour la premiere fois à la Salle de Spectacle nouvellement construite. Cette Salle, de 120 pieds de longueur sur 40 de largeur, remplit à bien des égards l’idée que l’on peut se former d’une Salle de Spectacle bien entendue. Elle est partagée en trois parties égales: le Th éâtre, le Parterre, y compris l’Orchestre; l’Amphithéâtre & les derrieres...
Appendix 5. Premieres of Plays by Molière and Voltaire
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Appendix 6. Discography
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Appendix 7. Colonial Productions with Sub-Saharan African Elements
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2014