July 29, 2013

Our Favorite Paris Experience: a Vivaldi Concert in the Exquisite Sainte-Chapelle

Comparing notes at the end of our week in Paris, we agreed that attending one of the regular evening concerts at the Sainte-Chapelle chapel topped our "most enjoyable" lists. I'd enjoyed the experience years ago, so we got our tickets as soon as we arrived in Paris.

Sainte-Chapelle is a few blocks from Notre-Dame Cathedral on the Île de la Cité, but the casual tourist wouldn’t know it's there. The entrance is hidden inside the Palais de Justice. You enter through an unimpressive lower chapel. After ascending a flight of stairs, you enter the stunning upper chapel.

Fifteen stained glass windows fill the walls. When the sun shines on them, they glow with blues and wine-colored reds. These beautiful windows depict over 1,100 scenes from Christian history, starting with the Garden of Eden.

The Apocalypse is featured on the great rose window at the rear of the chapel:

We lucked out and got front row seats seats for the concert:

The Concert
We were treated to an excellent rendition of Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons" by the musicians of the Classik Ensemble, headed by David Braccini. This group gives most of the evening concerts at Sainte-Chapelle.

Bracicini is an excellent violinist and an accomplished showman. His interactions with the audience and his fellow musicians enliven the performance.

Here’s a brief video clip of the group playing the same Vivaldi piece at a concert last year. You can see the chapel’s stunning windows:

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