Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mercoledi Musicale

The first time I went to Laurent's apartment for dinner he put on a recording - I'm not sure but he might have bought it for the occasion as he knew I liked classical music - it was the incredible Janet Baker singing Berlioz's Les Nuits d'éte (The Nights of Summer.)

Now it just happens that IMHO Dame Janet was one of the greatest singers of the late 20th century. I first heard her back in 1970 at the Glyndebourne Festival in Cavalli's La Calisto a performance that I treasure to this day. I believe at one time I owned every recording she ever made and was fortunate enough to see her in concert and on stage in some of her finest performances.

In this 1972 concert she sings my favorite of the Berlioz settings of the words of Theophile Gautier: Le Spectre de la Rose (The Spirit of the Rose.)

Open your closed lids
that a virginal dream lightly brushes.
I am the spectre of a rose
you wore at the ball last eve.
You took me still pearly
with the watering-pots silvery tears
and about the starry gathering
carried me all the night.

Oh, you, who caused my death,
powerless to banish it,
my rosy spirit every night
will come to dance by your bedside.
But do not be afraid - I demand
neither mass nor De profundis.
This fragile perfume is my soul
and I come from paradise.

My lot was to be envied,
and to have so beautiful a fate
many a one would have rendered up his life -
for my grave is on your breast
and on the alabaster where I lie at rest
with a kiss a poet
has written:
'Here lies a rose
that every king will envy.'

In a way I still think of this as one of our songs.

23 lulgio - Santa Brigida


Doralong said...

That is so romantic!

sageweb said...

That is very sweet...and what a set of lungs Janet Baker has.