Pays : France Label : Château de Versailles Genres et styles : Baroque / Opera Année : 2024

Reinoud van Mechelen / a nocte temporis / Choeur de Chambre de Namur – Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre : Céphale et Procris

· par Frédéric Cardin

Although Élizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre had a good reputation in the time of Louis XIV, history has unjustly forgotten her. Fortunately, her reputation is increasingly being restored by recordings of her beautiful music, including this lyric tragedy, Céphale et Procris, in a Prologue and five Acts. 

Céphale et Procris (Cephalus and Procris) is a reading of characters inherited from Antiquity, in this case a love duo condemned to an impossible union, taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The work was not the success she had hoped for, and after five or six performances was hardly ever performed again. Yet there are many beautiful passages (arias, duets and choruses) in this work, which was strongly inspired by Lully. Jacquet de la Guerre’s music is beautifully constructed and reveals some very fine melodic talents. Although the libretto by Joseph-François Duché de Vancy is not always of the highest standard, there are a few happy moments that lift the whole piece up. 

Above all, there are superb vocal performances from the various soloists, led by Reinoud van Mechelen. The latter also conducts his ensemble a nocte temporis in a precise and cheerful manner. The Namur Chamber Choir also provided some pleasant thrills. 

If you know French, you may be surprised by the pronunciation of ”oi”, such as Roi, Gloire, doit, toi, etc., which become Roé, Gloére, doé, toé. Well, yes, this is the diction that prevailed in pre-Revolutionary France, a diction that Quebec has inherited and which it retains in part in its everyday language!

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