Ep. 13 Lakme by Delibes broadcast 10.22.17
In this episode of Opera for Everyone we listen to Lakme, an opera in three acts by Léo Delibes to a French libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille.
The score, written in 1881-2, was first performed on in 1883 by the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The story is set in British India in the mid-19th century, Lakmé is based on Théodore Pavie's story "Les babouches du Brahamane" and novel "Le Mariage de Loti" by Pierre Loti.
The opera includes the popular Flower Duet (Sous le dôme épais) performed in Act 1 by Lakmé, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant Mallika.
The name Lakmé is the French rendition of Sanskrit Lakshmi, the name of the Hindu Goddess of Wealth. The opera's most famous aria is the Bell Song (L'Air des clochettes) in Act 2.
Like other French operas of the period, Lakmé captures the ambience of the Orient seen through Western eyes, which was periodically in vogue during the latter part of the 19th century and in line with other operatic works such as Bizet's The Pearl Fishers and Massenet's Le roi de Lahore. The subject of the opera was suggested by Gondinet as a vehicle for the American soprano Marie van Zandt.