Sponsus is an 80-minute oratorio for five singers, violin, double bass, guitar and accordion. It is a contemporary recomposition of an 11th-century liturgical drama on the biblical parable of the foolish virgins and the wise virgins. The piece is sung on the original text, in Latin and Occitan.
Sponsus was commissioned by the Déodat de Séverac festival as part of its policy of promoting contemporary artistic creation in the Occitan language. The oratorio will be premiered in Toulouse on 27 November 2012.
Two groups of virgins are expecting Jesus, their bridegroom (Sponsus in Latin), but he arrives late at the wedding feast. The wise virgins have kept enough oil to turn on their lamp, but the foolish ones have run out. They beg the wise virgins to lend them some oil out of charity, but the wise ones refuse. They then try to buy oil from some merchants but they offer no help either. When Jesus finally arrives he refuses to receive them and abandons them to the demons who carry them off to hell.
Characters and Staging
Sponsus presents three foolish virgins, three wise virgins, the allegorical figure of the Church, the angel Gabriel, the oil merchants and Christ. There is no strict correspondence between singers and characters: the same singer can represent several characters in turn while the same character can be represented by several singers in polyphony.