Since the middle of the 18th century, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater has been an absolute triumph all over Europe. Its initial success in Lyon can be accredited to the booming musical societies, in particular, the « Académie du Concert ». This academy was one of the most formidable of its kind, performing a wide range of sacred and profane Italian and French music. In the library of this outstanding institution, now kept in Lyon’s library, Franck-Emmanuel Comte found a very unusual manuscript of the Stabat Mater. This manuscript is presented in an unexpected arrangement. Apart from a few minor modifications in the instrumental parts, the second solo voice part is entrusted to a baritone (without a doubt because of the disappearance of the castrati), while the fugues and verse ‘O quam tristis’ are arranged for five voices. Thus, the Latin poem takes on a whole new dimension, gaining theatricality and dramatic emphasis.
In order to accompany this dramatisation of the Stabat Mater as well as nourish its intention, Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu have integrated various traditional Neapolitan polyphonies (Stabat Mater, Miserere…), songs (Donna Isabella, La Carpinese) and two tarantellas. This juxtaposition of scholarly music and popular art, of the sacred and the profane, conveys the Neapolitan soul. Today, this authentic spirit continues to flourish, especially during Holy week, through incredible and bewitching ceremonies. Musically, these are characterized by an astonishing convergence of religious songs sung by the celebrants, polyphonies improvised by the confreres in procession carrying the cross, ‘flonflons’ (loud party music) of the local band interpreting extracts from the Stabat Mater or from a Verdi opera, and simultaneously outdoors, tarantellas are sung, danced and hammered. This musical amalgamation resonates continuously on the forecourts of the churches whose doors have remained ajar… From all this, a collective emotion emerges, one that is mystical and festive, painful and joyous, surprising and troublesome.
The premise of this unique interpretation integrating sacred elements, that define the Neapolitan Holy Week, with authentic secular traditions, arose from countless musical experiences in Naples, Sessa, Aurunca as well as the nearby villages. This approach to the Stabat Mater is therefore both musicological, with the unpublished manuscript from Lyon, and socio-historical, by integrating the cultural and traditional Neapolitan background. Above all, it is a purely personal and subjective approach, born from a fusion of personal taste for Italian sacred music and the emotion felt during a timeless Italian voyage.
Since its inception, the Concert de l’Hostel Dieu has been a major player in the French Baroque scene. The set is distinguished by a sensitive and dynamic approach to interpretation of the vocal repertoire of the 18th century. Under the direction of Franck-Emmanuel Comte, passionate artist and committed educator, he defends the originality and specificity of a regional repertoire by highlighting baroque manuscripts preserved in the libraries of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The ensemble thus realizes various renditions and editions of unpublished scores, rich of the privileged links, which Lyon maintained with Italy. Promoting a historical and philological approach to Baroque and Classical repertoire, including the Mozartian catalog, The Concert of the Hostel Dieu systematically offers an interpretation on period instruments. One of the strengths of the Concert de l’Hostel Dieu is its ability to transpose the richness and diversity of baroque music to our time. Nourished by stimulating artistic collaborations, the ensemble is a hotbed of creativity that brings together the different baroque aesthetics with various cultures and artists with diverse backgrounds. Its creations reinvent the concert format and aim at reaching new audiences of different ages and to perform in outlying areas, where access to cultural events is often limited. As well as creating and performing, Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu also supports young soloists at the beginning of their careers, noticed at international singing competitions or academies.
Ever since finishing his studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon, Franck-Emmanuel Comte has held key positions and been a guest at opera houses (including Nantes, Lyon and Paris Opera Studio) and also with orchestras (such as the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie, the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, the Auckland University Orchestra, the Collegium Musicum Riga) As artistic director of the concert de l’Hostel Dieu since its creation, he has conducted the ensemble in more than 1,500 concerts and 20 recordings. A regular guest in European and world capitals (such as Barcelona, London, Riga, Kraków, Rome, Brussels, Madrid, Calcutta, Chennai, Peking, Taiyuan) and several international festivals (including Montserrat, Brežice, Girona, Foligno, Wallonia, Nuits de Fourvière, Ambronay, Chaise-Dieu, Peralada, Händel Festpiel de Halle). Franck Emmanuel Comte is passionate about baroque repertoire and for transversal or atypical artistic projects. He is artistic director of the Musicales en Auxois festival in Burgundy and of the Centre musical international J.-S. Bach de Saint Donat.