Marie Antoinette's Last Theatrical Performance - Poem by gershon hepner
The last theatrical performance that was given
by Marie, the Queen called Antoinette,
was Beaumarchais’ Rosina, unforgiven
by the hoi polloi whom she upset
when telling them, “Eat cakes! ” ––this is apoc-
ryphal, of course, but she ate crow
when all the sans culottes began to rock
the boat, and caused her blood to flow.
Later on Rossini turned Rosina
into a buffa heroine,
his musical and culinary demeanor
uncritical of Queens and sin,
and in a prequel to a prior “Marriage”
showed how the Countess once again was joyful,
loved by a Cherub she would not disparage
as age-inappropriate and boyful.
Inspired by a talk given by Dr. M. Hackett of UCLA before a stellar LA Opera performance of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville, ” with Nathan Gunn as Figaro, Joyce diDonato as Rosina, Juan Diego Flores as Count Almaviva, Andrea Silvestrelli as Don Basilio, and Bruno Pratico as Don Bartolo. Dr. Hackett drew the audience’s attention to the fact that Marie Antoinette in her last theatrical performance played the role of Beaumarchais’ Rosina.
Vivian Gruder, a historian whose special expertise is France in the 18th century, wrote to me:
Marie-Antoinette also prevailed on Louis XVI to permit the performance of Mozart's Figaro, and she was a music student of Glück. So for connoisseurs of culture, she deserves some appreciation.
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