The 1st Chapter of Convent Demonic Possesion

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The opera is based on a true event that transpired in the 1600’s in Aix-en-Provence, France that spurred a rash of following tragedies, specifically the trial of Father Louis Gaufridy accused of possessing two nuns at a convent, Madeleine de Demandolx and Louise Capeau. This was the first event that led to what you might recall is the event detailed in Penderecki’s Devils of Loudin. However, our operas couldn’t be more different. Additionally, our opera utilizes the role of a narrator from today that guides the audience in analyzing the events that transpired through the lens of modern psychology, i.e. sociopathic behavior was often masked as demonic possession.

Historical consultant: Claude Bourquin

Quick reference

The Trial of Louis Gaufridy: Possession, Heresy, and the Devil's Mark, 1609-1611
By: Caroline Q. Spence, University of Virginia

An important historical note from above reference regarding the political debates within the church at the time:
"Ferber's analysis of church dynamics finds a compelling example in the case of Louis Gaufridy. The political context of Gaufridy's trial and execution was one born of the religious turmoil that had besieged Europe for the past century. The Catholics, such as Michaëlis, who brought the case against Gaufridy and prosecuted him sought to divorce him entirely from their faith by associating him with the worst kinds of heresy. This was part of a campaign for internal church reform in which Gaufridy, a beneficed priest and member of the secular clergy, found himself on the wrong side. While these Catholics sought to unify and purify themselves against the Protestant threat, particularly volatile in France following the Wars of Religion, the message was ambiguous at best. As Michaëlis's Histoire Admirable shows, the publication of Gaufridy's confession as well as Jacques Fontaine's treatise on the case was taken by many Protestants as evidence that they had been right all along in their suspicions of the priesthood."

The scenes

Act One (total playing time: 69mns)

  1. Scene One: Bench outside in a park
  2. Scene Two: In Gaufridy’s parish office, a stormy night
  3. Scene Three part I: Madeleine’s chambers at the convent
  4. Scene Three part II: Madeleine’s chambers at the convent
  5. Scene Four: Louise’s chambers
  6. Scene Five: In the church
  7. Scene Six: Large room, Madeleine and Louise are laying side by side
  8. Scene Seven: Madeleine’s chambers
  9. Scene Eight: Louise’s chambers
  10. Scene Nine: Madeleine’s chambers

Act Two (total playing time: 64mns)

  1. Scene Ten: In the church
  2. Scene Eleven: Dungeon
  3. Scene Twelve: Michaelis’ private chambers
  4. Scene Thirteen: Torture chamber
  5. Scene Fourteen: The trial of Louis Gaufridy
  6. Scene Fifteen: Public execution
  7. Scene Sixteen: Inside the church
  8. Scene Seventeen: Bench outside in a park

The artwork (temporary)

Click here to view / download in HD.

© All music composed by VoA VoXyD between February 2014 & January 2015. Libretto and vocal lines composed by Melissa Ferlaak.