Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) and the Paris Opera

[Le Mozart Noir: Music of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; Tafelmusik Orchestra; Jeanne Lamon, conductor; CBC Records SMCD 5225 (2003)]

The blog “Tea At Trianon” recently had a post on Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges which began:

“Joseph Boulogne
(1745-1799), the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, known as”le Mozart noir” or "the black Mozart," was one of the most enigmatic gentlemen at Versailles in the years immediately preceding the French Revolution. The son of a Caribbean slave woman, the chevalier's presence in the highest circles of society contradicts the view many people have of royal France being a place of restriction. On the contrary, the reign of Louis XVI was a truly open and diverse era, in which talent was rewarded and the gifted could go far. Marie-Antoinette called the chevalier "my favorite American" and asked that the gifted violinist and composer give her musical instruction; the king made Saint-Georges director of the Royal Opera House. Full post

I have made the following Comment to clarify the matter of the nomination of Saint-Georges as director of the Paris Opera:

“A DVD called 'Le Mozart Noir', based on a 2003 CBC TV documentary, was released in 2005 and is available in North America. I am webmaster of, which devotes six pages and 12 audio samples to Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges. I contributed my research to the producer, so my name is in the credits. I am very pleased you are calling attention to this very worthy figure. Unfortunately, the nomination of Saint-Georges as Director of the Paris Opera was withdrawn by the King after it was sabotaged by three women who sang and danced in the company. They petitioned the Queen, saying the delicacy of their consciences would not permit them to take orders from "a mulatto". My website quotes biographer Gabriel Banat, who discovered that the courtier who was appointed in lieu of Saint-Georges was the lover of one of the three petitioners. This was the composer's most public racial humiliation. Dozens of fine CDs are available along with the DVD, so I hope you and your readers will explore them and help spread the word about the beautiful music of this composer.”

Elena Maria Vidal has graciously acknowledged the Comment by E-mail:

“Thank you very much for visiting and sharing this additional information about Le Chevalier. I will visit your website with great interest! Thank you!”

Chevalier+deSaint-Georges" rel="tag">Chevalier deSaint-Georges
Paris+Opera" rel="tag">Paris Opera
Gabriel+Banat" rel="tag">Gabriel Banat
Louis+XVI" rel="tag">Louis XVI
Mozart+Noir" rel="tag">Mozart Noir
Saint-Georges+DVD" rel="tag">Saint-Georges DVD

1 comment:

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for the link! Wonderful blog!