This event is now sold out.
Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s biblical cantatas are extraordinary historical jewels. Written by a woman, about women, for women, they tell bold, unflinching tales about love, marriage, tragedy and adultery, each one a tiny opera in all by name.
These unfairly neglected breath-taking miniatures – in new English translations by Toria Banks – will receive their UK premiere stagings more than 300 years after they were composed, in three atmospheric, fully accessible settings that champion the ability of women to tell their own stories and narrate their own experiences.
Created in partnership with Dunedin Consort, HERA, Mahogany Opera and the National Centre for Early Music
Carolyn Sampson, Anna Dennis, Alys Roberts soprano
Mathilde Lopez director
Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre Cantates Bibliques: ‘Judith’, ‘Rachel’ & ‘Susanne’
Susanne: A young woman, Susanne, is spied on by two community elders as she bathes. They harass her, and when she refuses to sleep with them, they threaten to accuse her of adultery. Our storyteller seems to keep her distance, treating the event with dry humour, but at the pivotal moment - La mériterez-vous? (do you deserve it?) - it becomes clear that she can’t.
Rachel: Jacob and Rachel is a story of frustration, sexual and otherwise. Jacob has worked for seven years for Rachel’s father Laban, to buy Rachel as his wife. But on his wedding night, he is tricked into marrying her older sister Leah instead, and asked to work a further seven years to earn Rachel as a second bride. Rachel, a passionate young woman, is not consulted. Left narrating her own life, her feelings force their way out in music.
Judith: General Holofernes has besieged the city of Bethulia, which is on the brink of collapse. Judith, a widow, goes to his camp, seduces him and beheads him in his sleep. As portrayed by Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes is an art historical icon of female rage. The setting is lush and expansive, with a glorious solo violin part adding a second voice. It is a bold, exultant conclusion to our programme.
Duration: 60 minutes
Supported by The Cavalli Trust
This performance is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Benson, a friend to Spitalfields Music over many years, who loved music