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Friday, 17 September 2021 02:58

Émilie to Maupertuis 11 January 1738

I'm thrilled by the beautiful new music for our opera, Émilie and Voltaire, that has been coming to me from Nicholas Gentile. The latest sounded like a wonderful manifesto for Émilie as scientist, so here is the new aria I added  to the libretto:

'This haven of mine
Brings me the rare pleasures of peace and liberty
My chateau is a shrine
Both to science and love.
This landscape divine
Shows me the way into a lucid clarity.
Ideas in my mind
Soar to the sky above.

'My lover can say
His knowledge too grows here
In the gentle countryside
And so we work in the clear light of Cirey.
Ah!

'Yes, the world will rejoice
When I am known
Through words of my own
And everyone will hear my voice.'

I look forward to letting you hear that voice when we're ready to release a demo of the aria.

Meanwhile here is Émilie in real life, writing to Maupertuis in January 1738.

'I would have written to you much earlier, monsieur, if I’d thought you were unhappy, because however philosophical we happen to be, and however superior we feel to those who are incapable of admiring us, it’s hard to see mistaken ideas triumph, and to meet nothing but opposition as a result of the work that we’ve undertaken and accomplished. The fact is that no one in France wants Monsieur Newton to be right. Nonetheless it seems to me that some part of his glory has been reflected back onto your country as a result of your efforts. To the extent that I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Parlement pass a decree against Monsieur Newton’s ideas, and against you in particular.

'I believe it’s to these circumstances that we can attribute the refusal to allow the release of [Voltaire’s] Elements of Newton in France. We are heretics in science. I admire my own daring when I say "we" but even the kitchen boys in the army say, "We’ve beaten the enemy!"

'I sometimes rejoice in the opposition you have to face because it will afford me the pleasure of seeing you here: I beg you to prefer my place over any other retreat, including the Mont Valérien. I flatter myself that the life we lead here will please you. Certainly, the only thing that’s lacking here is your presence.'

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