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Events/ Ongoing Programs/ MetLiveArts/ Digital Premieres/ Cécile McLorin Salvant at The Met Cloisters

Cécile McLorin Salvant at The Met Cloisters

Free with Museum admission

In July 2023 MetLiveArts welcomed three-time GRAMMY®-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant for a digital-exclusive performance in the Unicorn Tapestries Room at The Met Cloisters. For Salvant, also a skilled textile artist, the tapestries have long been a source of inspiration. Much of her music relates vivid stories of mythical creatures—her acclaimed Ogresse, which tells of a fantastical, forest-dwelling monster-woman, premiered at The Met in 2018. Now, alongside several of her closest collaborators, Salvant creates a program that reimagines songs from her latest album, Mélusine, drawing on the beloved Unicorn Tapestries’ mythological grandeur and themes of corporeal and ethereal love.

Mélusine (releases Nov 1)

The European folkloric legend of Mélusine—a woman who becomes half-serpent each Saturday due to a childhood curse—forms the basis for Salvant’s album. Mélusine weds the young Raymondin on the condition that they never see each other on Saturdays, but at the urging of his brother, Raymondin betrays this promise. In this original song, Salvant, accompanied by a lone theorbo (a French baroque lute), tells of the sorrowful moment when the eponymous maiden sees her husband spying as she bathes nude.

D'un feu secret (releases Nov 8)


Salvant’s long relationship with Baroque music shines in this reinterpretation of an air de cour—the predominant secular vocal composition style of 17th-century France—by royal music master Michel Lambert (1610–1696). Like many airs de cour, “D’un feu secret” tells of love’s tender joys and fiery pains: “I could heal if I stopped loving altogether, but I like the disease more than the remedy.” Salvant is joined by two instruments that would have accompanied the air in its premiere: a theorbo (a type of French lute) and a harpsichord (featuring frequent collaborator Sullivan Fortner in his harpsichord debut).

Dame Iseut (releases Nov 15)

Salvant’s upbeat “Dame Iseut” casts a twist on a work of 12th-century trobairitz (female troubadour) Almucs de Castelnau. Usually of noble lineage, trobairitzes were the first known female composers of Western secular music, often performing for noble courts in what is now the South of France. For “Dame Iseut,” Salvant sings the work’s original lyrics in Occitan—a once-dominant Romance language that today is severely endangered—as well as a new Haitian Creole translation fashioned by her father, the Haitian-born physician Alix Salvant.

Cécile McLorin Salvant appears courtesy of Nonesuch Records.

Recorded on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 in the Unicorn Tapestries Room (Gallery 17) at The Met Cloisters.

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