Duet: Sous le dome epais, from "Lakme"

By: Leo Delibes
For: Large mixed ensemble
page one of Duet: Sous le dome epais, from "Lakme"

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Leo Delibes
Year of composition
Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
5 minutes
Classical music
License details
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Lakme is a three-act opera with a libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille. Gondinet thought the subject particularly suited to the soprano voice of Marie van Zandt, a rising young vocal star whom he admired. The subject comes from a novel by Pierre Loti. Delibes composed the music between 1881 and 1882, but the premiere took place the following April 1883 at the Op�ra-Comique of Paris. Typical of its age, the story makes use of an exotic location, Hindu religious rituals, tension and conflict between the natives and the British settlers, and conflicts surrounding the two main lovers, who both have obligations and loyalties that war with their passion for one another. The music is rich and sensuous, with an oriental flavor during the crowd scenes and scenes of religious rites. This oriental flavor defines the ambiance of the story, giving an aural background even where there is no narrative. Meyerbeer's L'Africaine makes similar use of the contrasts between Europeans and "pagans," and also has a love triangle which crosses ethnic boundaries in much the same way. And the subtle colors and harmonies that create this "exotic" world blending European culture with foreign elements were also inspired by Meyerbeer and Bizet. The opera was very well-received by the public and was produced many times at the Op�ra-Comique. It achieved international popularity as well, and all in all is as great a work as Delibes' ballets Sylvia and Coppelia.

Lakm� was based on a novel by Pierre Loti, with strong autobiographical elements inspired by a romance the author experienced while living in Tahiti. Rarahu, the woman involved, eventually died from alcoholism. The basic outline of the story was retained, but Delibes transferred the story to India so that the cultural conflict could be one between the British and the Brahmin Hindus. And instead of alcohol being the cause of his heroine's downfall, Delibes chose as the means of her demise the poetic device of a poisonous flower, the datura (which outside of the operatic stage is not deadly).

The hinge-piece of the opera is the famous "Bell Song" (De la fille du paria). It is sung by Lakm� at the behest of her father, the Brahmin priest Nilakantha. Unbeknownst to her, he intends to use her beauty and beautiful singing to ensnare a trespasser. A British officer named Gerald is one of a group of Englishmen who has trespassed on holy ground despite a warning that this was forbidden on pain of death. He saw Lakm� and fell in love with her instantly, and she with him. Nilakantha observed the last part of their meeting, but fled without being clearly seen.

Delibes' topic suggested musical contrasts between the British and the Eastern characters and locales; it is modal melodies that give the opera its distinctiveness and particular charm. Besides the wonderful "Bell Song," there are various "Oriental" dances and passages intended to depict Hindu ceremonial music. Even though the growth of world-spanning media and field recordings has shown us just how inauthentic this music is, the opera continues to seem exotic in mood. Even though the opera is a fairly rare visitor to the stage outside France, the "Bell Song" has always been popular.

This arrangement is for two solo Sopranos and small chamber ensemble.

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The High School Cadets, The Blue Danube Waltzes, The Holly And The Ivy, Of The Father's Love Begotten, Marche Militaire, Op.51 No.1, Slavonic Dance, Op.72 No.2, Pavane, Op.50, The Nutcracker - Overture, La Damnation de Faust - Rakoczy March, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, Swan Lake - Dance of the Cygnets, Symphony No.25 - 2. Andante, 16 Songs for Children, Op.54 No.6 Legend ("When Jesus Christ Was Yet A Child"), Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 1. Allegro, Suite Bergamasque - No.3 Clair de Lune, Water Music Suite No.2 in D, Maple Leaf Rag, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 4. Bourree I and II, Birthday Minuet, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 3. Adagio, Tales From The Vienna Woods, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 7. Badinerie, O Christmas Tree, Orchestral Suite No.3 - 4. Bourree, Children's Corner, No.6 The Golliwog's Cake-Walk, String Serenade - 2. Waltz, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.11 Furchtenmachen (Frightening), Bethena - A Concert Waltz, Marche Militaire, Op.51 No.1, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 2. Affettuoso, Who Let The Cows Out?, Song Without Words No.27 "Funeral March" Op.62 No.3, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.13 Der Dichter Spricht (The Poet Speaks), Le Coucou, Habanera from "Carmen", Children's Corner, No.6 The Golliwog's Cake-Walk, Piano Sonata in A "Alla Turca" - 3. Rondo, The Washington Post March, The Merry Wives of Windsor - Overture, Symphony No.29 - 2. Andante, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.7 Traumerei (Dreaming), Berceuse, Op.16, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op.42 - No.3 Melodie, Rosamunde - Ballet Music No.2, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Nocturne, L'Autunno ("Autumn") - 3. Allegro, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 "The Wedding March", Gradual, Gymnopedie No.1, Si. Mi chiamano Mimi, from "La boheme", We Three Kings, The Liberty Bell March, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 3. Sarabande, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 6. Theme and variations, Holberg Suite - 4. Air, Espana - 2. Tango, In Dulci Jubilo, Trombone Johnsen, Serenade No.10 , L'Estate ("Summer") - 2. Adagio, Presto, String Sonata No.1 - 2. Andante, Humoresque, Op.101 No.7, Trio No.3, Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 2. Adagio cantabile, Deck The Halls, Emperor Waltz, Policy King, Lohengrin - The Bridal Chorus, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 "The Wedding March", Symphony No.29 - 3. Menuetto, St. Paul's Suite - 4. Finale (The Dargason), Holberg Suite - 5. Rigaudon, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 6. Menuet, Chanson Triste, Op.40 No.2, L'Estate ("Summer") - 3. Presto, Little Jesus, Sweetly Sleep, The Entertainer, Symphony No.25 - 1. Allegro con brio, Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 1, Sextet: Chi mi frena, from "Lucia di Lammermoor", Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 3, Thais - Meditation, Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins - 3. Allegro, Christians, Awake!, La Cinquantaine, L'Inverno ("Winter") - 3. 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Gavotte and Musette, Minute Waltz, Op.64 No.1, Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins - 1. Vivace, Song Without Words No.30 - Spring Song Op.62 No.6, Semper Fidelis, String Sonata No.1 - 3. Allegro, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 1. Allegro, Orchestral Suite No.3 - 1. Overture, Brook Green Suite - 2. Air, Brandenburg Concerto No.6 - 3. Allegro, La Marseillaise, The Sleeping Beauty - Waltz, Trio No.2, Un bel di vedremo, from "Madama Butterfly", In The Bleak Mid-Winter, La Primavera ("Spring") - 1. Allegro, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Symphony No.25 - 3. Menuetto, Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven, Symphony No.40 - 4. Allegro assai, Trio No.4, The Marriage of Figaro - Overture, The Amazon Rag, Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins - 2. Largo ma non tanto, The Blue Danube Waltzes, Lullaby, La Primavera ("Spring") - 3. Allegro: Danza pastorale, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Scherzo, L'Autunno ("Autumn") - 2. Adagio molto, Thaxted (I vow to thee, my country), The Flight of the Bumble Bee, St. Paul's Suite - 1. Jig, Roses From The South, Once in Royal David's City, Symphony No.29 - 4. Allegro con spirito, La Primavera ("Spring") - 2. Largo, St. Paul's Suite - 3. Intermezzo, Symphony No.29 - 1. Allegro moderato, Babes in Toyland - March of the Toys, Unto Us A Child Is Born, Wine, Women and Song, St. Paul's Suite - 2. Ostinato, Rosamunde - Ballet Music No.2, Silent Night, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 2. Rondeau, Brook Green Suite - 1. Prelude, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 2. Menuetto; Trio 1; Trio 2, Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade, Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 2, Angels We Have Heard On High, William Tell - Overture, I Saw Three Ships, O mio babbino caro, from "Gianni Schicchi", Symphony No.40 - 1. Allegro molto, Che gelida manina, from "La boheme", Brandenburg Concerto No.6 - 2. Adagio ma non tanto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.7, Ah! per sempre io ti perdei, from "I Puritani", O come, O come, Emmanuel, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 2. Adagio - Allegro, Symphonie Fantastique - 2. Un Bal, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 1. Overture, Away In A Manger, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 5. Polonaise and Double, Solomon - Act III, Sinfonia "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba", Symphony No.40 - 2. Andante, Auld Lang Syne, The Coventry Carol, Symphony No.25 - 4. Allegro, Water Music Suite No.3 in G, Ave Maria, Op.52 No.6, Carmen - Act 1: Prelude, Symphony No.40 - 3. Menuetto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.8, O Little Town Of Bethlehem (1), Brandenburg Concerto No.2 - 1. Allegro, O Holy Night and The Barber of Seville - Overture

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