CAROLINE ~ ou l’Esclave voilée. Comédie en deux Actes mélée d’Ariettes. [France], 1793.
Manuscript on paper, 8vo (172 × 110 mm), pp. , 81, . Calligraphic title within engraved oval border, two ink headpieces, one with the text ‘Naître / Aimer / Mourir’. Occasional light deletions in pencil. Pp. 3-4 slightly loose. Contemporary sheep, spine with 5 raised bands between gilt rules, lettered direct. Slightly rubbed.
An apparently unpublished musical comedy: a witty turquerie of mistaken identity and cultural confusion. This is an intriguing late appearance of the Harlequin-enslaved figure. The two French characters, Arlequin, and his lover Caroline are separately captured by corsairs and taken into the household of the Turkish Néhacki, who promptly falls in love with Caroline. To disguise her, he veils her and calls her Fatima. At the same time he entreats Arlequin, who is unaware of her real identity, to follow her and to keep an eye on her every move. The comedy unfolds through songs and duets of love and jealousy, before, of course, the two lovers are reunited over the course of the two acts. An aged governess who takes a shine to Arlequin adds to the amusement.
With elements of a number of earlier musical comedies popular on the French stage from at least 1700, we have nonetheless been unable to find any record of Caroline ou l’Esclave voilée in print.