Iphigénie en Haïti: performing Gluck's Paris operas in the French colonial Caribbean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gluck has been hailed as the ‘first truly international opera composer’, but his internationalism is always understood in strictly European terms. This article seeks to expand our understanding of Gluck's international scope beyond Europe and specifically into the French colonial Caribbean. Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) enjoyed the most vibrant theatrical tradition of the entire Caribbean in the eighteenth century, and three of Gluck's Paris operas that had premiered in the 1770s were given there in the 1780s. Performances of these works are examined in turn, with an emphasis on performance practices in the context of local conditions, both social and practical. Gluck's operas are seen to have reached a mixed, though segregated, audience that incorporated some free people of colour, including a small number of black people, and the first documented performance of a singer of colour in a Gluck opera is uncovered. Our understanding of Gluck's reach, reception and status is thus broadened and deepened in some significant ways, and some new areas of research are opened up.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-29
JournalEighteenth-Century Music
Issue number1
Early online date16 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Iphigénie en Haïti: performing Gluck's Paris operas in the French colonial Caribbean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this