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Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres

Saturday April 3rd 2021
7 pm | 1h15 without intermission


Sophie Junker and Florie Valiquette Sopranos

Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal
Stéphane Fuget Conductor


The Leçons de Ténèbres (Lessons of Darkness) became a favourite theme for musical compositions in the middle of the 17th century. Michel Lambert was the first French musician to compose a cycle in 1662, quickly followed by Charpentier and Lalande. But the most famous - and the first to have attracted the public of today and to be recorded - are those of François Couperin, dated 1714.

At the end of the reign of Louis XIV, religious sentiment was intense in France as was the fashion for the Italian style in music, including religious music. The emotions composed by Couperin for his female singers are so dramatic that one would think they were taken from opera... Vocality and spirituality are artfully combined, showing the refinement of French song as performed in salons and theatres as well as in places of worship. Indeed, in Parisian convents, people hurried to hear these divine voices singing the Lessons written for Holy Week, the faceless voices of young convent recluses, voices from heaven... but often opera singers when theatres and concert venues were closed for these times of penance! Traditionally, candles were gradually extinguished as the office des Ténèbres unfolded to end in the complete darkness... François Couperin’s three surviving Leçons de Ténèbres were written for Holy Wednesday and remain one of the pinnacles of French sacred art of the early 18th century.

Stéphane Fuget conducts the young and sublime singers, Florie Valiquette and Sophie Junker (coming from who knows what convent...) for this concert particularly in tune with Versailles, which is also being recorded for our record collection.

This concert will be recorded for the Château de Versailles Spectacles label.


François Couperin (1668 – 1733)
Leçons de Ténèbres pour le mercredi saint
Motet pour le Jour de Päques : Victoria !

Michel Richard De Lalande (1657-1726)
Cantique Quatrième : Sur le Bonheur des Justes et le malheur des réprouvés

Royal Chapel

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    Time :

  • 19h00

Château de Versailles Spectacles Card

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