1410 - The Book of the Queen - building of the Cité des Dames - by Master of the Cité des Dames. British Library.

1410 - The Book of the Queen - building of the Cité des Dames - by Master of the Cité des Dames. British Library.

La Cité des Dames

Posted on September 15, 2019

La Cité des Dames (2019) for 6 Sopranos.

Performed by singers: Adriana Aranda, Louise Leterme, Kanae Mizobuchi, Andrea Conangla Fernandes, Mathilde BarthelemyEsther Rispens and directed by Donatienne Michel-Dansac at Abbey of Royaumont on the 7th of September. Commission of Fondation Royaumont.

“The composition La Cité des Dames (The City of Ladies) for 6 Sopranos uses the selected text from Christine’s de Pizan (1364-1430) book of the same name finished by the year 1405 in a vernacular middle French. Pizan’s allegorical city of ladies is defending the virtue of female with examples of famous virtuous women to be “housed” at La Cité and serving as role models for other women to follow. In the book the protagonist Christine, upset after reading the misogynist Matheolu’s Lamentations, is visited by three female Virtues who present themselves and their roles in helping building the foundations and houses of the city. In the first part of my composition the chosen text is an instruction on how to build the city, given by Virtues to Christine. The second part is her answer to their demand. At the very end the Virtues encourage Christine.”

Justina Repečkaitė

Original text:

La Cité…

Ediffice fait en maniere de la closture d’une cité fort maçonnee et bien ediffiée. Faire les fors fondemens, et les gros murs tout a l’environ lever, haulx, larges, et a grosses tours et fors chastiaulx fossoyés, bastides donnés et vrayes, tout ainsi qu’il appartient a cité de forte (et) durable deffence et puis les murs sus tant hault esleveras qu’ilz ne craindront tout le monde.

…des dames

Ne mon foible scens ne scet ne congnoist l’art de les mesures ne estudié ne a la science ne la pratique de maçonnier. Et se ses choses par possibilité de science estoyent ores en mon entendement, ou seroit prise force souffisante a mon foible corps feminin pour mettre a oeuvre si grant chose?

Prens la pioche de ton entendement et fouys fort et faiz grant fosse tout partout.



The City… 

Edifice built like a city wall, strongly constructed and well founded. To lay the sturdy foundations and to raise the lofty walls all around, high and thick, with mighty towers and strong bastions, surrounded by moats with firm blockhouses, just as fitting for a city with a strong and lasting defence and then you will raise the walls so high that they will not fear anyone.

…of Ladies

My feeble sense does not know the craft, or the measures, or the study, or the science, or the practice of construction. And if, thanks to learning, these things were within my ken, where would I find enough physical strength in my weak feminine body to realize such an enormous task?

Take the pick of your understanding and dig and clear out a great ditch everywhere.