Divertissements of Charpentier for Molière

semi-staging Jos Houben & Emily Wilson


Charpentier is quite paradoxical. His work has definitely reached us through his twenty-eight splendid hand-copied books full of music scores ; yet it might only be the tip of the iceberg… What is more, we know some landmarks of his career but nothing about his education. He is acknowledged as the greatest seventeenth-century composer for sacred music, but … after all, what did we miss ?

Once read the outstanding pages of the lessons of Tenebrae, the motets for the house of Guise, the psalms for the Jesuits, one can stumble across some juicy works and realize that throughout his life, the Marc-Antoine Charpentier that we thought we knew was not indifferent to humor. Is it the reason why Molière spotted him in the early 70’s (1670), right after his journey back from Italy ? The great Molière was looking for talented musician who would be able to write some music on the verses recited between the acts of his comedies. The young Charpentier joined then the French Comedians troupe. Among the works he creates with the troupe, the most well-known is Le Malade Imaginaire. Many more works has reached us, giving us clues on the unlimited fantasy the audience was looking for at the time. Humor evolves from one century to the other: it was once clownish and straightforward, everyone was laughing to it ; it has become politically incorrect and we understand it with second degree.

Charpentier conveys throughout his life and work a direct, subtle, intact humor, talking to those who wants to laugh with him ; this derision ability reveals again and again his true personality: visionary, highly subtle, profound and definitely brilliant.


Les Plaisirs de Versailles

La Comtesse d’Escarbagnas / La la Bonjour
Ouverture de la Comtesse
Lalalala bonjour
O la belle symphonie

Le Sicilien
Beauté dont la rigueur
Voulez-vous beaux bizarre

Les Plaisirs de Versailles
Scène 1 – La Musique
Scène 2 – La Musique, la Conversation et le Chœur
Scène 3 – Un des Plaisirs
Scène 4 – Le Jeu et les susdits

Le Malade imaginaire
Polichinelle & fantaisie des interruptions

Les Arts florissans

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