1882 · Romantic · Opera orchestra
Lakmé is 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 14 April 1883 by the Opéra-Comique at the (second) Salle Favart in Paris, with stage decorations designed by Auguste-Alfred Rubé and Philippe Chaperon (Act I), Eugène Louis Carpezat and (Joseph-)Antoine Lavastre (Act II), and Jean-Baptiste Lavastre (Act III). 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) for sopranos performed in Act 1 by Lakmé, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant Mallika. 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.
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