A real musical oddity from the French Baroque: Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille, i.e. Scene of Cutting for the Stone by Marin Marais.
Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille begins with a somber section in the key of E minor and tempo marking Lentem (slowly), freely performed. It is followed by a contrasting lively piece titled Les Relevailles in the key of E major, tempo marking Gay, joyously celebrating the patient’s return to life. The score is annotated in considerable detail, guiding the performer in what the music is attempting to convey. As Joseph Kiefer accurately observes: “The music successfully depicts the apprehension, fear, agitation, and other emotions of the patient as well as the mounting tension of the operation itself, building up to the climactic extraction of the stone.”Les Relevailles is etymologically of particular interest. It refers to an ancient ritual that designates a period after delivery when the mother needs to regain her strength. Historically this period lasted 40 days and may be related to the religious ceremony known as “churching.”