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Stabat mater for two Castrati


  • Thursday April 6th 2023
  • Royal Chapel
  • 9pm | 1h20 without intermission
Homepage Stabat mater for two Castrati 2023


Bruno de Sá Countertenor

Cameron Shahbazi Countertenor

Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal

Under the high patronage of Aline Foriel-Destezet

Andrés Gabetta Conductor



Two countertenors for an iconic work, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater: this is the resurrection of the story behind the French premiere of this piece, brought by two castrati from the Royal Chapel of Louis XV!

A few months before his death at the age of twenty-six, Pergolesi received a commission for a new Stabat Mater to replace a previous version by Alessandro Scarlatti. Afflicted by illness, he expressed the Virgin’s suffering by blending the language of operatic passions. Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, created in 1736, is one of the emblematic works of the Baroque era and profoundly influenced the musical world of the 18th century, especially in France.

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The Italian castrati of the Royal Chapel of Versailles (Louis XIV had brought eight of them from Italy as early as 1679 for his sacred music) themselves brought the score from Italy and became its zealous promoters at the court of Louis XV and the Concert Spirituel. Upon discovering Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Paris was enraptured and recognized it as the revolutionary work of a Neapolitan genius who had tragically died young. Its success endured throughout the century. Vivaldi’s setting of the same Stabat Mater text resulted in a virtuosic work, composed in 1712 to be performed in Brescia. Mirroring these Marian laments, the motet In furore unleashes opposing passions in a piece as dazzling as it is contrasting: here is the fury of divine wrath!


To bring out the full splendor of the sumptuous duo of angelic voices lamenting Mary’s pain at the foot of the Cross, it takes two performers who can blend their timbres, like the two Neapolitan castrati for whom this music was composed.


The brilliant sopranist Bruno de Sá brings all the light of South America to a voice that undoubtedly reflects the angelic quality of some of the Vatican, Naples Royal Chapel, or Versailles castrati! And the alto voice of Cameron Shahbazi, a singer of Iranian descent, adds an unheard-of commentary color to this summit duo.


Here are two exceptional performers for a program of sensitivity and virtuosity…


This concert is dedicated to the memory of Denis Jovignot.


Produced by Les Productions de l’Opéra Royal.

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)

In Furore

Stabat Mater


Jean-Baptiste Pergolèse (1710-1736)

Stabat Mater

The Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles

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