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Jacquet De La Guerre : Cephalus and Procris


Opera in concert version
  • Tuesday January 24th 2023
  • Hercules Room
  • 8pm | 2h with intermission
Accueil Jacquet De La Guerre : Cephalus and Procris 2023


Reinoud Van Mechelen Cephalus, Nereus

Ema Nikolovska Aurora

Déborah Cachet Procris

Lore Binon Flora, Dorine

Gwendoline Blondeel Iphis, The Priestess

Marc Mauillon Jealousy

Lisandro Abadie Boreas, Pan

Samuel Namotte Arcas

Namur Chamber Choir

A Nocte Temporis

Reinoud Van Mechelen Conductor



1694: The first French opera composed by a woman, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, premiered on the stage of the Académie Royale de Musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Cephalus and Procris, inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, tells the tragic fate of these two Greek lovers, driven to blindness and the horror of vengeance by the jealous and loving gods: Céphale mistakenly kills Procris, convinced of her infidelity, and his grief is so immense that he takes his own life…

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Presented at the age of eight before Louis XIV, who admired this young and talented harpsichordist, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre remained at court for several years, her reputation as an inspired virtuoso growing with age. A brilliant and strong-willed personality, she made it possible for herself to be a composer at a time when such freedom was almost unheard of for a woman… In addition to cantatas, a book of harpsichord music published in 1687 dedicated to Louis XIV, and religious pieces, she composed three operas, of which only her great work with this mythological piece remains, still awaiting its revival…


This tragédie lyrique, with its distinctly Lullian style, marked the debut of a female composer on the grand French stage: a first, but also a successful endeavor, with six performances and a reputation that remained renowned throughout the past century, still arousing curiosity today. In a distinguished haute-contre career, Reinoud Van Mechelen also wishes to conduct works he is determined to defend at all costs: here he is at the helm of his ensemble A Nocte Temporis, reviving Cephalus and Procris in concert and on record, with a dream cast.

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Lyric tragedy in a prologue and five acts, based on a libretto by Joseph-François Duché de Vancy, adapted from the myth of Cephalus and Procris in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, premiered at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris in 1694.


Concert in French without subtitles.

The Hercules Room of the Château de Versailles

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And also…

2CD Cephalus and Procris

In 1694, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre became the first woman to compose a French opera, creating a work that tells the tragic fate of the Greek lovers Cephalus and Procris, thus marking an exceptional act of freedom for a woman at that time.
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