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Document Type

Article

Abstract

This article sets forth, for the first time in detail, the life and career of Minette, who was the main female opera singer in Port-au-Prince at the end of the eighteenth century. The city was the capital of the thriving and wealthy French colony of Saint-Domingue (which, upon gaining independence in 1804, took the name Haïti). Theatrical activity in Port-au-Prince was comparable to what one could find in any large provincial city, and the success that Minette gained was all the more remarkable for her being categorized as colored (mestive). The details of Minette’s origins, life, and career and of the social world around her allow us to understand better her extraordinary story. New facts presented here—including a full listing of her known performances and a detailed genealogy—correct and enrich the account of Minette that Jean Fouchard sketched in the 1950s and reveal how complex the trajectory of one individual could be in a society that was based on slavery and on deeply held prejudices about race and color.

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Musicology Commons

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