Gálvez the Unsung Hero of the American Revolution - Let's Make Him Sing!

Have a look at the life of Bernardo de Gálvez. He was fighting the Apache in Texas. Fighting the Moors in Africa. The Portuguese in Europe. He was Governor of Spanish Louisiana during the American War of Independence. While Spain was still neutral, he supported the American patriots with secret deliveries of arms and other supplies provided by the French and Spanish governments. As soon as Spain joined the war, Gálvez set forth to conquer the British forts in Baton Rouge, Mobile and Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico, thus keeping the limeys busy, and the mouth of the Mississippi open for further much-needed supplies to George Washington's troops.

Gálvez was a crucial contributor to American independence. He is the namesake of Galveston TX, and the man who established the tradition of Texas cattle drives. His portrait hangs inside the U.S. Capitol, and he is one of only eight honorary citizens of the USA. His life is crying to become an opera, isn’t it?

Reading about Gálvez is a sheer pleasure. Characteristic scenes, colorful speech, striking anecdotes left, right, and center. And think of the people around him:
  • His wife, a celebrated New Orleans belle.
  • His adopted cousin Maria Rosa de Gálvez, one of the first female playwrights in Spanish literature.
  • Irish trader Oliver Pollock, once the richest man in the colonies, now languishing in debtors’ prison after he spent all his wealth in support of George Washington’s and George Rogers Clark’s troops. 
  • On the other side of the ocean, the key partner of Gálvez and Pollock was none other than Beaumarchais the playwright, on whose plays ‘Barber of Seville’ and ‘Marriage of Figaro’ two of the most successful operas in history are based.

All these characters will be part of the Gálvez opera. Their various ethnic backgrounds will be a feast for the composer. And a formidable composer we have: it is Mary Carol Warwickwho has nine operas brought to stage so far, including several commis­sioned by Houston Grand Opera. Two of her operas are bilingual, English-Spanish. Her works are performed not only in the U.S. and in Canada, but also in Europe and in Sin­gapore. She is intrigued by the libretto and already had several working sessions with Marec.

A showcase performance with the first two scenes, with singers handpicked by Mary Carol Warwick, and Paul Boyd at the piano, will be held at Rice Univerity on 5 April 2017! See poster below:

And here’s what the characters of the opera have to say:

Bernardo de Gálvez: “I’m determined to perform my duty, or to pay with my life for the king’s bread that I have eaten. Whoever has honour and valour will follow me!”

His bride Félicité: “Oh, this uniform! I can’t wait to open it … button by button by button …”

His cousin Maria Rosa (portrayed here): “In all of Spain, I am the first female playwright!”

Beaumarchais: “As behoves a writer, I was gaoled for my esprit. But Oliver Pollock, he was incarcerated for the greatest crime that society knows. He ran out of money!

Oliver Pollock, in debtors’ prison: “I’m Irish. I wouldn’t mind being imprisoned by the British, but why by the Spaniards?”

The Spanish admiral: “If Gálvez were serving under me in the navy, I would hang this spoiled and unmannerly upstart from the yardarm of my flagship!”

British governor Chester: ”You give more countenance to lawless banditti, than to His Britannic Majesty’s servants and liege subjects!”

The priest: “So – I shall say the last rites, shan’t I?”

 

Los Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez, an organisation founded in 1973, cherishes the memory of Bernao de Gálvez and educates the public on the Spanish contribution to American independence.

Parts of the Gálvez opera libretto were read in Houston, San Antonio, and Washington DC.

Fundraising has started. Donations are tax-deductible.

 

 

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