I have found Bach's vocal works to be a fun way to supplement learning German. I am also learning French, and I have tried looking for such works with French libretto but I have been unable to find any as Baroque-era French (sacred) pieces tend to be in Latin. I'm aware that there are some Romantic-era pieces such as Bizet's Carmen, though I much prefer the Baroque style. I would prefer sacred pieces, though I'm open to any suggestions!

  • Hi! I'm french and a little dubious about the methodology, the only opera in french I saw in concert (maybe more modern than what you ask for, may have been Debussy) I was barely able to understand one complete sentence :D. Maybe it was partly due to manierism from the singers, but the french language has evolved a lot since baroque times, and the pronunciation went through radical changes (for exemple accent 200 ago years was very similar to canadian or belgium, an accent fench people now mock). Will not go through history of the language, but even for written it has changed a lot
    – Kaddath
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:47
  • @Kaddath I was going to make the same point; most languages have changed a lot over 400 years. It's not unlike learning English from Shakespeare: not a bad idea as enrichment, but not a great idea as a primary means. I had a hard time translating some early-17th-century Italian and German. Jun 26, 2023 at 17:12
  • Thanks for the comments @Kaddath and @AndyBonner! I've considered this point, though I think it isn't much of an issue as I'm mostly interested in reading 19'th century literature anyway, so I don't think this is too different from studying the modern language. Jun 27, 2023 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


Protestantism in French speaking parts tended to be more on the Calvinist side of things rather than Lutheran, accounting for your observation. There are definitely collections of French-language metrical psalms, but not a lot of elaborate sacred cantatas as in the Lutheran tradition.

There is, however, a lot of French baroque opera, in contrast to the relative dearth of German-language opera in the baroque period. Recommendation questions are frowned upon here, but start with Lully and Rameau and the others on Wikipedia's chronological list.

Another more focused source of names would be those found in the article on French opera, including Charpentier and Campra.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.