Tuesday, December 9, 2014

La Madeleine, Paris

One of the items I can cross off my bucket list is to see a concert in one of the great spaces of Europe. While traveling one often sees posters for concerts in various churches and this past trip to Paris we saw an unexpectedly exciting performance of Mozart's Requiem at La Madeleine.
La Madeleine is perhaps best known for its location: Fauchon and other high end food stores ring the square upon which is rests; Directly to the south is the Place da la Concorde and directly to the east is Place Vendome.
The church was ordered (re)built by Napoleon in 1806 as a memorial to his army but wasn't built for another 20 years by architect Pierre-Alexandre Vignon and following his death Jacques-Marie Huve.
The most striking object other than the Apse ceiling with a painting modestly showing Napoleon in the 'History of Christianity' is this statue of Mary Magdalene by Charles Marochetti rising above the high altar, seen below.
I say the concert was exciting because as Mozart's Requiem was being performed one of the performers passed out and was placed behind the altar while ER staff tried to resuscitate her. The show must go on however and if one had had their eyes closed (to enjoy the music of course, not nap!) one would have missed it.
The unfortunate choral member left the church with the audience, although on a stretcher, thankfully not with her face covered. Talk about drama - fighting for life and death while Mozart's Requiem rages on!
One of the first events held in the church was Chopin's funeral which was delayed 2 weeks as the church finished construction where Mozart's Requiem was also, fittingly, played.
Seeing a choral performance in such a beautiful space was a highlight of my trip and I hope to do this again on future vacations.
For those of you not familiar with the Requiem below is a video with a great performance for you to enjoy.


Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Beautiful post, beautiful video. Paris at night, (no wonder it's called the city of lights) fills your heart and memories with moments you always treasure. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Karena Albert said...

Stefan what a dreamy, ethereal experience (with some drama thrown in)So beautiful, it reminds me of coming across a concert in a beautiful church in Prague to enjoy for part of an evening!

The Arts by Karena

Mark Ruffner said...

Hi, Stefan,

One of the problems with art history books is that we see so many of the same pieces from book to book, and miss out on others — like the statue of the Virgin Mary at La Madeleine. I've never seen an image of it before!

Chronica Domus said...

How lucky to have had an opportunity to attend such a beautiful concert in such a stunning setting. I too would have gone if the opportunity had arisen. I was once walking past the little church of St. Martin-In-The-Field by Trafalgar Square in London and walked into the most beautiful classical guitar concert. The music and setting were ethereal and added to the excitement of Christmas time.

Pax Britannica said...

The semi-dome is actually painted (not mosaic - that's below) with in fact 'the History of Christianity' by Jules Zeigler, showing Constantine, Joan of Arc and Raphael, in addition to Napoleon (who is not being crowned) and Pope Pius VII. I hope you also said a prayer, as that is what the building is for ;-)!

M. Denise C. said...

Lovely, Stefan. Did not know that about Chopin.

deana sidney said...

Don't you think the space adds to the performance? There is something in the acoustics of ancient spaces, it warms up the tone -- makes it more complex. A zillion miles away from a plastic recording studio.

It is a magnificent church. I have an ancient photo of it from the beginnings of photography. I need to find it!!

Wonderful vacation you had!

Michael Hampton said...

In all the years I have been going to Paris I have never been inside the church! It must have been an incredible experiecne to hear Mozarts requiem in such an amazing space.