Pedro Memelsdorff

Pedro Memelsdorff

Francesco De Dombrowski Visiting Professor
Music in the French Caribbean 1760-1800
Pedro Memelsdorff



A performer and musicologist, Memelsdorff has long been a member of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI. In 1987 he founded Mala Punica, an ensemble specialized in medieval polyphony and recipient of numerous awards. A former fellow of Villa I Tatti, a Bloch lecturer at Berkeley, and a Blodgett Distinguished Artist at Harvard, he is now an Affiliate Researcher at the University of Tours and a member of the college of the Swiss Graduate School in Italian Civilization. A guest lecturer at Oxford and Pisa, he co-directs the Early-Music Master programmes at ESMUC-Barcelona and directs the EMS at the Fondazione Cini-Venice. He also served as the Director of the Schola Cantorum in Basel.

Project Summary

“Minette, Caribbean Galathée” is the project of an opéra-pastiche and a book on the still elusive life of the first title-role singer of color in the history of French opera, Elisabeth Alexandrine Louise Ferrand. A grandchild of a freed slave, she debuted at age fourteen at the opera theatre of Port-au-Prince in Saint-Domingue (nowadays Haiti) in 1781, exiled to Cuba in 1803, and died young in New Orleans in 1807. Building on a decolonial and inter-artistic perspective, the project focuses on the re-signification of imported musical and theatrical repertoires in the colonial context