Three Women

Histoires sacrées de Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Three Women

Histoires sacrées de Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Histoires sacrées and motets by Marc-Antoine Charpentier gathered by Sébastien Daucé and Vincent Huguet. First scenic project initiated by the ensemble Correspondances, premiered on the 6th of october 2016 in the church Notre-Dame de la Gloriette, Caen.

Coproduction : théâtre de Caen and Abbaye de Royaumont with the support of the Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso, “grand mécène” of the Fondation Royaumont.
Run time: 1h30
Église Notre-Dame de la Gloriette, Caen, le 6 octobre 2016, Concertgebouw, Bruges, le 22 octobre 2016, Chapelle de la Trinité, Lyon, le 7 décembre, Chapelle royale, Château de Versailles, le 14 décembre 2016.


Conductor : Sébastien Daucé
Director : Vincent Huguet
Set designer : Aurélie Maestre
Costume designer : Clémence Pernoud
Lighting designer : Bertrand Couderc
Assistant Lighting designer : Anthony Auberix
Stage manager : Christophe Robert


Ensemble Correspondances

Judith : Caroline Weynants
Madeleine : Lucile Richardot
Cécile : Judith Fa
Dessus : Violaine Le Chenadec, Caroline Arnaud
Haute-contre : Stephen Collardelle
Taille : Davy Cornillot
Basse-taille :Etienne Bazola, René Ramos Premier
Basse : Renaud Bres, Nicolas Brooymans
Violon : Josèphe Co, Béatrice Linon, Sandrine Dupé, Simon Pierre
Flûte : Lucile Perret, Matthieu Bertaud
Viole : Mathilde Vialle, Myriam Rignol, Etienne Floutier
Basse de violon : Antoine Touche
Clavecin et orgue : Pierre Gallon
Théorbe : Thibaut Roussel
Luth : Diego Salamanca

Program :

O Sacramentum – Ô Sacrement de Piété H.274
Judith sive Bethulia Liberata – Judith ou Béthulie libérée H.391
In odorem unguentorum – Au parfum de tes onguents H.51
Magdalena Lugens – Madeleine en larmes H.343
Caecilia Virgo et Martyr – Cécile Vierge et Martyre H.397
Sub tuum Praesidium – Sous l’abri de ta miséricorde H.28

© Photos : Philippe Delval

Notes on the staging
par Vincent Huguet

Three women. Judith, Mary Magdalene and Cecilia

“Dwelling solitary in caves, grieving Magdalene, sighing night and day,
in a grief-stricken voice said to Jesus”

Marc-Antoine Charpentier, motet for Mary Magdalene, Magdalena lugens


Among the works composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704), the Histoires sacrées constitute an especially beautiful ensemble. Although the original scores have survived, we have little idea of how exactly they were performed. Usually sung in Latin, with a small number of musicians and singers, they often revolve around a biblical figure and are presented as quite short, free-standing pieces lasting twenty minutes or so. You could see them as miniature sacred operas, akin to the Mysteries of the Middle Ages, insofar as they tell a story. […] Judith, Mary Magdalene, Cecilia: their names conjure up the Bible stories, and mythical lands –  “beyond the mountains of the town of Bethulia” in Judith’s case – and their destinies have represented virtues, allegories as told by the Church, for centuries. Their stories are exemplary, and they lived long ago; yet, through Charpentier’s music, the sentiments they express – joy, doubt, suffering – are as powerful as ever. Perhaps more so than in paintings, which show us their faces and metaphorical attributes, their song is capable of bringing to life and up to date emotions that we might experience today. At a time when our society has seen the brutal and enduring return of the martyr figure, which we struggle to comprehend, and while passions and tensions run high in the name of religious fervour, Judith the heroic widow, Mary Magdalene the penitent and Cecilia the convert can descend from their alcoves and altarpieces and show us the strength of their experience.

They are women, which means hearing the story through a woman’s voice, today as in the past. Women surrounded by men and angels, women subjected to the gaze of a society that may praise or condemn them but that judges them, always. But when they find themselves suddenly in an exceptional situation, they break ranks and make history.

It is at that particular, seminal moment that they appear to us. Judith, Mary Magdalene, Cecilia: like a trinity, three sisters who tell us of their fear, their despair and their victory. When Mary Magdalene mourns the dead Christ in the cave of Sainte Baume, her lament is heard by all of those who have lost a loved one; she imparts colours to an endless, lost love, and shows us a way from affliction to peace. And when Cecilia converts and strives to convert her loved ones, the very nature of her conversion probes our own depths and incorrigible desire to change ourselves and to change other people. Finding the connections in their lives, hearing what they have to say to us, turning them into real-life women whose tears and joys we can experience as if they were with us today: such is challenge posed by the staging of Charpentier’s Histoires sacrées.