The Cantata for three voices

The Cantata for three voices (June 1911-July 1912) appears to be a total work. The argument is already dramatic. Three women, Laeta, engaged, Fausta, exiled, Beata, widow, each separated from the one she loves. The poem sets up a setting, a terrace overlooking the Rhône and the Dauphiné landscape, and has enough internal stage directions to suggest a theatrical game. The three-voice cantata is all the more dramatic since the absent spouse is the divine spouse: the expectation is none other than that of the soul. Therefore, the apparent elegiac and georgic motifs (vine, wheat, garden, rose) take on a religious meaning. Dramatic, lyrical and mystical, the cantata is still a musical work. The short lines, all in phrastic breaks and raises due to the use of rhyme, are followed by hymns of celebration, the often ample verse, centered on a motif (perfume), its meanings (expression of interiority, essence of the creature, word, sacrifice and gift, return to God of the spirit), where each woman’s voice makes joy, hope and love heard. Drama, lyricism and music make this poem a play to be performed and heard: The three-part cantata was actually staged. Claudel composed other cantatas for musical interpretation, which called for the collaboration of a composer: Darius Milhaud set Pan and Syrinx to music, and it was given at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels on 23 November 1934, the Cantata for Peace, set to music by Darius Milhaud was performed in May 1937, the Cantata for War (1940), Hindemith composed the score for the Cantique de l’espérance.