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.