Dramatic Vocalise Database

André Caplet (1878–1925)

Le miroir de Jésus, mystères du Rosaire (1923 [vs (1924)])

Caplet’s late work Le Miroir de Jésus, mystères du Rosaire (1924) also uses wordless vocalization, the musical style still containing traces of Debussy’s influence. The piece consists of three major sections—“Miroir de Joie,” “Miroir de Peine,” and “Miroir de Gloire”—made up of six subsections each. Each of the eighteen subsections begins with an announcement of its individual title by “3 Voix d’enfants ou 3 Choriphées: Soprano élevé, Mezzo et Mezzo grave” [“3 voices of children or 3 chorus members: high soprano, mezzo soprano, and low mezzo soprano.” 1

Caplet, Le Miroir de Jésus, part 1, no. 2, “Annonciation,” mm. 1–6 2

The larger women’s chorus acts as accompaniment to the female soloist, designated in the score as “voix principale.” At times, prolonged singing à bouche fermée or on vowel sounds, and the melismatic, chant-like nature of the choral passages evoke the spirit of dramatic vocalization. However, Caplet re-associates these nonsensical phonemes within a lexical context, thus turning “Ah” into “Amen,” “Alleluia,” or “Annonciation.” Caplet also doubles the text with vowel sounds derived from the text itself.

Caplet, Le Miroir de Jésus, part 1, no. 2, “Annonciation,” mm. 14–16 3

According to Robert Orledge, “the spirit of the plainsong he so much admired from his visits to Solesmes is adapted to modern techniques in a fervent, sincere and supple work of consummate beauty and tenderness which, as always, reveals to the full his refined taste and avoidance of sentimentality.” 4 It was a combination of Debussy’sSirènes” and melismatic chant that formed Caplet’s mature vocal style.

(Nauman 2009, 100–1)



Pt. 1, no. 2, “Annonciation”


1 André Caplet, Le Miroir de Jésus, mystères du Rosaire (Paris: Durand, 1924), 1 n. 2.

2 Ibid., 13.

3 Ibid., 14.

4 Robert Orledge, “Caplet, André,” in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy, http://www.grovemusic.com (accessed 20 November 2006).