Play by Dalt Wonk, Music by Alvin Batiste, 2003
A Bitter Glory is a musical drama set in 1790 in Colonial Louisiana. A French Marquis purchases a new African slave — whom, he learns, was the head-man of a warrior tribe. The French aristocrat is intrigued by the African aristocrat and favors him over the other slaves.
He even gives him the cabin of Bobó, a trusted house-servant, who has worked for the Marquis in the Plantation House all his life.
Eventually, the Marquis grows competitive with the African. Which of the two is more noble, more aristocratic? A crisis is inevitable.
It is house-servant Bobó, however, and his estranged wife who become the focus of our attention — as they struggle to learn the fate of their daughter who was sold away.
Selfish vanity drives the aristocrats. The “little common people” don’t concern them.
In the end, Bobó must give up his illusion of belonging. And learn the harsh truth that he is dispensable.
New Orleans Jazz composer Alvin Batiste wrote the music for the drama — which was presented in concert form at the Contemporary Arts Center and aired on WWOZ radio.