Michel Laplénie

French Tenor (b.1943, Brive)

French singer Michel Laplénie specialised mos† notably in 17th-century German Baroque music. His numerous recordings have demonstrated the rich European musical tradition of the period. He is globally recognised as having been one of the leading figures of contemporary baroque.

After years spent studying the violin and German, Michel Laplénie initially became a German teacher. However, after meeting William Christie he decided to devote himself to singing. He became a founding member of the Arts Florissants, with whom he worked until 1992, and the Ensemble Clément Janequin, with whom he worked until 1986. He performed internationally, made recordings and went on tours. He pursued a career as a soloist in the field of Baroque opera, oratorio (under the direction of Martin Gester and Gustav Leonhardt) and Lied, performing Schubert, Wolf and Schumann, accompanied by pianist Alice Ader. In 1986, Michel Laplénie founded his own vocal ensemble Sagittarius, taking the latinised name of the great 17th century German master Heinrich Schütz. The ensemble of mixed voices favours chamber pieces, with an emphasis on religious repertoire from the 16th to the 18th century. They mainly sing in German, but also in Italian, English and French. Sagittarius forged an international reputation through their unique and often daring recordings, which frequently brought to light previously unknown works. Michel Laplénie conducted Sagittarius for almost 30 years, at most of the major French festivals as well as internationally, allowing new audiences to appreciate largely unknown works. Michel Laplénie’s interest in teaching led to him working in the Department of Early at Music at the CRR in Paris, between 1989 and 2006. He has also led training sessions (at the Abbaye de Sylvanès), master classes and conducting classes. He created the Schola Sagittariana Baroque Academy, which offers classes to professional singers and musicians, and Conservatoire Students wishing to refine their skills. He also directs the Académie du Périgord Noir and the ensemble de l’Abbaye aux Dames in Saintes. Michel Laplénie is faithful to the spirit of Baroque music; William Christie and René Jacobs value him as a close colleague.  

Five Landmark dates in the Life of Michel Laplénie 

1986 – Created the Sagittarius ensemble 

1995 – Conducted Heinrich Schütz’s Psalmen Davids

2008 – Was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

2011 – Created the Schola Sagittariana

2016 – Gave his final concert with the Sagittarius ensemble