Marc-Antoine Charpentier Composer


Numerous discoveries concerning the life and work of Marc-Antoine Charpentier have marked the last decades of the 20th century. His date of birth, his family background and perhaps his portrait on a royal almanac of 1682 reveal a life that took place on the bangs of the inner circle of Louis XIV's court, and which was long overshadowed by the celebrity of his contemporary Lully. His work - almost 550 catalog numbers, preserved in 28 volumes of Mélanges written by himself - is now fully recognized.

The highlight of his youth and training was a stay in Rome with Carissimi, who not only inspired his oratorios and sacred histories, but also infused his writing style with Italian turns of phrase and techniques. Charpentier worked for a time with Molière and the Comédie-Française (Le Malade imaginaire, 1672). Unable to complete the competitive examination that would have given him the post of sous-maître de musique at the Chapelle royale in 1683, he established himself by pursuing a dual career: one, secular, as a composer and performer for powerful patrons such as Mlle de Guise and Philippe d'Orléans; the other, religious (over 400 works) for Parisian orders and institutions - the Jesuits (David et Jonathas, 1688), Port-Royal, the Abbaye-aux-Bois (Leçons de Ténèbres cycles), the Sainte-Chapelle, where he became Master of Music in 1698. With his only opera, Médée (1693), based on a libretto by Thomas Corneille, Charpentier reached the pinnacle of his art and expressive power.

Currently in

  • Palais Garnier
  • from 10 April to 11 May 2024

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