Tuesday 10 January 2023

Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre's only opera Céphale et Procris to receive its UK premiere

Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre's Céphale et Procris
The 17th century French composer Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre wrote in a wide range of forms, but only published one opera, Céphale et Procris The work was poorly received at its premiere in 1694 at the Académie Royale de Musique (the first time an opera by a woman had been performed there). The lack of success probably says as much about the atmosphere in late 17th century Paris (just ten years after the death of Lully) as it does about the quality of the work. Under the influence of his religiously conservative second wife Madame de Maintenon, King Louis XIV had lost interest in opera and Catholic religious authorities were attacking opera as a 'sensuous' form of entertainment.

The libretto is based on the story of  Cephalus and Procris as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses. It tells the tragic love story of Céphale and Procris. Procris has been promised to Borrée, but is in love with Céphale. Aurore, also in love with Céphale, tries to plot against the couple.

The work is receiving its UK premiere next month when Ensemble OrQuesta will be performing it at the Cockpit Theatre (7, 9, 10 & 11 February 2023), directed by Marcio da Silva, with Kieran White as Céphale, Poppy Shots as Procris, Helen May as Aurore and Jack Lawrence-Jones as Borée. The work will be given in a new edition created for these performances.

Full details from Ensemble OrQuesta's website.

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