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Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres


  • Wednesday April 5th 2023
  • Royal Chapel
  • 9pm | 1h15 with intermission
Homepage Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres 2023


Ana Vieira Leite Soprano

Adèle Carlier Soprano

Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal

Under the high patronage of Aline Foriel-Destezet

Gaétan Jarry Conductor and organ



In the mid-seventeenth century, the Leçons de Ténèbres became the subject of increasingly popular musical compositions. Michel Lambert was the first in France to compose a cycle in 1662, soon followed by Charpentier and Lalande. But the most famous – and the first to have been performed and recorded – are those composed by François Couperin, dated 1714.

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At the end of the reign of Louis XIV, France was a land of piety, but also of Italianism in music, including religious music. The emotions composed by Couperin for his female singers are so dramatic that they sound like something out of an opera… Vocality and spirituality are artfully combined, testifying to the refinement of fine French singing practised both in the salons and theatres and in places of worship. People flocked to listen to the divine voices singing the Lessons for the days of Holy Week in Parisian convents, the faceless voices of young conventual recluses, voices from heaven… but often opera singers when theatres were closed during the period of penance before Easter! The candles were traditionally extinguished as the Office of Darkness unfolded, to end in the darkness of the night… The three extant lessons by François Couperin were written for Shrove Wednesday and represent one of the peaks of French sacred art of the early eighteenth century.


Gaetan Jarry conducts two young and wonderful singers, Ana Quintans and Adèle for this concert, which is particularly relevant to Versailles, and which will also be recorded in our collection.

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François Couperin (1668 – 1733)

Leçons de Ténèbres pour le Mercredi Saint


Michel Richard Delalande (1657 – 1726)

Cantique Quatrième : Sur le Bonheur des Justes et le Malheur des Réprouvés


François Couperin

Motet pour le Jour de Pâques : Victoria Christo Resugenti !

The Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles

More info
And also…

CD Couperin – Leçons de Ténèbres

In his Leçons de ténèbres, Couperin relies on a clever play of contrasts, between sorrow and hope, between Hell and Paradise, between high and low notes, thus translating the very essence of Holy Week. From the heart of the Chapelle Royale, relive the painful but salutary journey of Christ to Jerusalem, from his Passion to his Resurrection!
More info

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