Four actors and solo violin reveal Bologne’s true friendships with Mozart and Marie Antoinette, featuring Bologne’s finest music for orchestra.
Written and Directed by Bill Barclay
The Chevalier is the centrepiece of an international advocacy campaign for racial representation across the US and EU orchestra ecology. Each performance raises money for the Sphinx National Alliance for Audition Support which funds auditions for musicians of colour in the United States to win tenured chairs in US orchestras. Bill Barclay has co-created a new audition alliance with the Chineke! Foundation in London to amplify this effort in Europe, the European Alliance for Audition Support (EAAS). Musicians of colour need financial support to audition for orchestras that have stubbornly resisted inclusion, particularly among Black players, composers, and conductors. Bologne’s story is one of many that must be restored to our lopsided history. We are also partnering with the Festival Saint-Georges in Bologne’s hometown in Guadeloupe, to open-source and digitise all of Bologne’s 250+ compositions.
Commissioned by The Boston Symphony Orchestra for a world premiere at the Tanglewood Learning Institute’s inaugural season in 2019, The Chevalier was selected as a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference in 2021. The Winston-Salem Symphony workshopped the work in 2020 ahead of its full premiere which was scheduled to be part of the 2021 National Black Theatre Festival.
Son of a slave and French aristocrat, Joseph Bologne has reached the top of his game – music teacher to Marie Antoinette and Europe’s fencer to beat. But when a bedridden Mozart is carried into his kitchen, he attracts the attention of a secret police force returning people of colour to slavery.
As Paris hurtles toward Revolution, Bologne is forced to choose between his creative freedom and the crusade for equality. Can he sacrifice his bow for his sword?This is the true story of three immigrants – Marie Antoinette, Mozart, and the Chevalier – conflating the French Revolution with the Resistance against authoritarianism unfolding today.
The full-length stage play will continue to be workshopped throughout 2021. Our ‘concert theatre’ tour with just four actors intersperses Bologne’s finest movements with dramatic and comedic scenes.
We either tour with our own ensemble of 7, or perform with your orchestra. The 80 minute show can accompany a talkback on racial equity in the arts, as well as both lectures and masterclasses for universities.
A playlist of the music is streamable here.
This story is attributed to the work of Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, and Gabriel Banat, whose passionate efforts have brought the Chevalier to life.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
The Chevalier is represented worldwide by Tanja Dorn at Dorn Music.
This approved text is not to be altered or shortened without the management’s permission. Please replace older versions.
Full Score and Parts are available upon request.