Tiff Review: ‘Mademoiselle Paradis’ Captures the Cruel, Elite World of 18th Century Europe

Maria Theresia von Paradis was the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa’s Court Councilor and thus a young woman of standing despite the blindness that took her eyes before the age of five. Her father Joseph Anton and mother Maria Rosalia had the means to therefore teach her the finer things such as piano — a vocation to which she found expertise. The Empress allowed her a disability pension as financial assistance to help offset the strain of raising a daughter in the eighteenth century without prospects for marriage. But the pain in her eyes grew and every doctor hired to alleviate it only made matters worse. Franz Anton Mesmer became their last hope with his laughable method of healing via an invisible, odorless, and weightless magnetic “fluid.” It worked.

Paradis (Maria-Victoria Dragus) would eventually become a touring musician and composer who may have also been an inspiration to Mozart (she

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