Opera Daily 🎶 — September 2, 2020

Today we’re listening to…

“Depuis le jour,” a soprano aria from Act III of the French opera Louise by Gustave Charpentier. Renée Fleming is singing here, and she gives us an almost dream-like interpretation of this piece. It’s lush, intense, and beautiful.

🎧 Listen here (6 minute listen):

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Opera is filled with one-hit wonders. The rest of Louise is not nearly as good as this aria, but this piece is a staple in almost every soprano’s repertoire.

The story is simple. The title character, Louise, is the daughter of a working-class family. She's in love with Julien – a poet, and against her family's wishes, the two run away together. Act III opens with Louise singing “Depuis le jour” (“Since the day”). In this aria, Louise (soprano) describes how her life has changed since coming to live with Julien (tenor) and how her life grows better every day when she is with him.

What a beautiful life!
My dream wasn’t a dream! Oh! I’m so happy!
Love is spreading its wings over me!
In the garden of my heart sings a new joy!

Everything is vibrant; everything rejoices at my triumph!
All around me, everything is smiling light and joy!
And I’m trembling delightfully from the charming memory
of the first day of love!

What a beautiful life!
Oh! I’m so happy…utterly happy!
And I’m trembling delightfully

from the charming memory of the first day of love!

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Conversation starters

  • Louise premiered in Paris at the Opéra-Comique on February 2, 1900. In addition to being the composer, Charpentier also wrote the libretto for Louise. Charpentier’s next (semi) success was the opera Julien in 1913, essentially a sequel to Louise.

  • While Louise is an opera, Charpentier liked to call it a “musical romance.” When asked why, he said: “Because in a romance there are two entirely distinct sides, the drama, and the description, and in my Louise, I wish to treat these different sides. I have a descriptive part, composed of decoration, scenic surroundings, and a musical atmosphere in which my characters move; then I have the purely dramatic part, devoted wholly to the action. This is, therefore, a truly musical romance.”

Thank you for listening,

Michele

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