The Chevalier: The Life & Music of Joseph Bologne brings together two concepts that are hot today: music theater (or, theater with music), and recognition of figures in classical music other than white European males (Bologne is two out of three, if you count his place of birth).

The subject is Joseph Bologne, also known by his title Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a Black bon vivant who was born in 1745 on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Formally educated in France, his talents for violin playing and composition shone (along with fencing and dancing) and he was also a military colonel and an abolitionist. As a composer, the guy was no hack: he wrote at least one hundred works from string quartets to operas.

What was his life as a Black man in courtly 18th century Europe like? We may never know for sure. Bill Barclay’s play dramatizes episodes of his life, with live performances of his music woven into the story. Barclay, by the way, is also the artistic director of Music Before 1800, the New York early music institution. MB1800 co-presents the performance, along with Concert Theatre Works (of which Barclay is also artistic director, and which supplied the actors for this production), and the Harlem Chamber Players (whose instrumental talents will be in full display on stage, along with solo violinist Brendon Elliott).

United Palace

If you are even the slightest bit piqued by this description, the venue should put you over the top. The United Palace (4140 Broadway in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan) is a must-see all by itself. The brilliantly gorgeous and excessively ornate decor of this 1920’s one-time movie theater will take your breath away. It’s one of New York City’s largest theaters, with 3400 seats.

The performance is on January 21, 2024, at 4 pm (get there early so you can gawk at the “eclectic Orientalia with Moorish-Rococo influence” of the hall).  Tickets at The performance will be captured on video, and will be available for on-demand streaming in February (tickets via