The first two chapters of the Gospel according to Luke, in its most beautiful translation into French, by Louis-Isaac Lemaître de Sacy, was first published in 1667. A Port-Royal solitary, Lemaître de Sacy spent most of his life translating the Bible into French, working from both the Latin and Greek texts, which was only slightly tolerated by the Vatican after the Council of Trent.
The show simply presents, during Advent, the story of the birth of Christ, as told in the Bible—a story full of Angels appearing, prophecies being made, of love and of joy—at the junction point between the Old and the New Testaments, the moment when everything shifts. The show includes extracts from the translator’s preface, in order to frame the Gospel as it was generally understood in the 17th century, and also as it was specifically understood by the Port-Royalists, who were the greatest intellectuals of their time.
The show presents the texts in Baroque declamation, a researched rendition of the manner people would adopt when speaking on stage, at court or during lectures in the French 17th century. Baroque declamation is nothing but text, from which everything spurs to life—even the gesture which accompanies its rendition rises from the text. And thus it brings the text to a new form of life, making it, through the rules of rhetoric, clearly understandable in all its subtleness, and highly emotive. For everything is almost sung, with a very codified accentuation, and the text thence becomes as touching and meaningful as music. Charles Di Meglio declaimed the texts by himself, in Parisian churches lit by candles, in a presentation reminiscent of the Baroque oratorios.
The show is part of a three-episode cycle: launched in October 2012 with Saint Augustine’s Confessions, it is followed by the narration of the Nativity in December 2012, and will end in March 2013, with the Passion in the Gospel according to Matthew. Each episode is done twice in Paris: once at Sainte-Clotilde, and another at Saint-Roch.