"The Royal Orgy" (1789)

In 1789, with the collapse of old regime censorship as well as a sense of liberation from traditional moral constraints, printed libels against the Queen became both more common and more intense. An example of this greater intensity is this light opera, with raunchy lyrics set to popular tunes. Not intended to be performed, the pamphlet spoofs the Queen’s great interest in opera and her supposedly even greater interest in the sexual prowess of some of her courtiers. As with the pornographic libels of the old regime, the printed accounts of her trysts with the Count of Artois and the Duchess of Polignac had no basis in fact, but they were consistent with the popularly held view of Marie Antoinette as out of touch with her people, self–interested, and a hindrance to the proper government of France, because of her uncontrollable lusts for power, luxury, and sex.


Characters:

Louis XVI

The Queen

The Count of Artois

The Duchess of Polignac

Bodyguards

The action takes place in the apartments.

FIRST SCENE

Bodyguards Choir, drinking

Let's vary our pleasures

between Bacchus and the God of the Ton,

the example we are shown here,

increases our desires.

A GUARD

To arms, there comes Her Majesty.

ANOTHER GUARD

There will be an orgy tonight. The female Ganimede is with the Queen.

ANOTHER GUARD

Artois, the beloved one, there he is between vice and virtue. Guess who the vice is.

A GUARD

You do not need to guess. I can only see that this God is multiplying.

SCENE II

The Count of Artois, the Queen, Madame de Polignac

THE QUEEN, to Madame de Polignac who steps aside to let the Queen go

Come, come in my good friend.

THE COUNT OF ARTOIS, slightly pushing the Queen, and pinching her buttocks

Come in too (whispering to the Queen) What a nice bottom! So firm!

THE QUEEN, whispering to the Count of Artois

If my heart was as hard, wouldn't we be good together?

THE COUNT OF ARTOIS

Be quiet you crazy woman, or else my brother will have another son tonight.

THE QUEEN

Oh, no! Let's have some pleasure, but no more fruits.

THE COUNT OF ARTOIS

All right. I will be careful, if I can.

THE QUEEN

Let's sit down.

MADAME DE POLIGNAC

Where is the King?

THE QUEEN

What do you worry about? Soon he will be here to annoy us.

Trio: the Queen, the Count of Artois, Madame de Polignac

THE QUEEN

When I see around me

pleasure, love and Graces,

fixing me on their tracks,

what happiness it is to obey the law.

THE COUNT OF ARTOIS, to the Queen

O supreme good! I am next to what I love;

My heart full of pleasures,

Does not have any more desires.

MADAME DE POLIGNAC

Friendly Princess,

what exhilaration it is for me,

whenever I can

to plunge your senses

in the softest drunkenness!

Together

When I see around me

pleasure, love and Graces,

fixing me on their tracks,

what happiness it is to obey the law.

MADAME DE POLIGNAC

Here comes the King.

Source: Anonymous, L'Autrichienne en Goguettes ou l'Orgie Royale; Opera Proverbe (n.p., n.d. [1789]).