French colony Saint-Domingue (nowadays Haiti) owed its wealth to thousands of African slaves labouring on the coffee and sugar plantations. The white slavers used their riches for financing cultural delights based on Parisian examples including operas and concerts. Pedro Memelsdorff & Co.’s two snap-shots of Colonial musical life include the voices of the disenfranchised: in 1780 at a concert in Port-au-Prince 14-year-old singer Elisabeth Ferrand began her career as the first black singer in the history of French opera. The tensions between forced cultural subordination and self-confident upheaval come to an explosive discharge in the »slave mass« brought over from French Guayana.
Francesca Benitez, soprano I | Belén Vaquero, soprano II | Markéta Cukrová, mezzo-soprano | Luca Cervoni, tenor | Yannis François, baritone | Marco Saccardin, bass
Guadalupe del Moral, Ignacio Ramal, violine | AlaiaFerrán, viola | Hyngun Cho, violoncello | Alberto Jara, contrabass | Johanna Bartz, traverso | Neven Lesage, Daniel Ramírez, oboe | Jairo Gimeno Veses, Gilbert Camí, bugle | Claudius Kamp, bassoon | Marco Saccardin, guitar & theorbo | Pablo Kornfeld, harpsichord & organ | Dídac Moral, Dani Muñarriz, percussion
Théotime Langlois de Swarte, solo violin
Pedro Memelsdorff, musical director
»Concert spirituel« in Port-au-Prince (Saint-Domingue), 1780
Music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Giovanni Paisiello, Egidio Duni, François-Joseph Gossec, Nicolas Dalayrac et al.
Messe en cantiques, French-Guyana, before 1763
Reconstruction of a »slave mass« based on French melodies of the period
16:00 h | length: 45 min
Plant Hall Orangery Palace Sanssouci
Opera & slavery in the French Caribbean
Pedro Memelsdorff’s research unearthed such a wealth of material that he decided to write a book about this extraordinary subject. Discover the secrets of the colonial music world and find how the black Madonna of Częstochowa is linked to Haiti.