La Morte di Lucretia 
Aria, Largo et affettuoso
Aria. Vivace – Adagio
Recitativo – Adagio
Michel Pignolet was born near Paris in 1667. His early musical training was from Jean-Baptiste Moreau at the cathedral choir school in Langres. By the age of twenty he had already become a symphoniste du petit choeur or section leader of the basses de violin in the opera orchestra. The introduction of the new contrabass to the opera orchestra suggests that he had traveled to Italy with his patron the Prince de Vaudémont as the instrument could only be encountered in Italy at the time. Montéclair composed in all the trending genres of the time including twenty-four cantatas published in three books in 1709, 1716 and 1728. The composer was known to engage with Rameau in a polemic discussion about music theory and his theoretical writings contain a Petite methode pour apprendre la musique.
The majority of the material for the cantatas of the time came from either classical history or mythology and the unknown librettists delivered their stories in a light-hearted fashion that concluded with a straightforward moral for the audience. Montéclair’s cantatas are almost like mini-operas and with their limited instrumentation provided the composer with the challenge of providing a simple yet effective backdrop for the vocal action.
For the larger part, most of Montéclair’s audience had a wide knowledge of classical culture and would have had encountered the story of the Rape of Lucretia in Livy’s Annals of Ancient Rome, standard texts at the time. The less academic of the period would have been aware of the stories through plays, tapestries, paintings or opera. For those in modern audiences who may be unfamiliar with the story of Lucretia, the scene is clearly set in the first recitative. La Morte di Lucretia is a vivid and engaging tale of the story of Lucretia who committed suicide to preserve her honour after being violated by Tarquin.