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Swansea City Opera – Lakmé
Swansea City Opera visit The Palace Theatre, Paignton on 23 February 2017 with Lakmé following their highly acclaimed 2016 tour of La bohème.
This jewel of an opera is best known for the famous ‘Flower Duet’, which has become one of the most familiar numbers any composer, in any genre, has ever written, even used by our national airline on TV ads as the peaceful accompaniment to a jetliner floating through wispy clouds!
As so often with operas that become famous for a particular tune however, Lakmé contains many other hidden musical gems including the stratospheric and challenging ‘Bell Song’.
Like other French operas of the period, it captures the ambience of the Orient seen through Western eyes and, topically for today, tells of religious tensions and conflict leading to personal sacrifice, heartbreak and death.
Nilakantha; a high priest is forbidden to practice his religion by the British forces occupying his city. His daughter, Lakmé with her servant leave behind their jewellery to bathe in the river. A group of Britons; two male officers and three women spot the jewellery while on a stroll, trespassing near the temple’s grounds. The women request copies of the jewellery’s design so Gerald, one of the officers stays behind to make the sketches. Gerald hides when Lakmé returns but are soon drawn to one another. Lakmé tells Gerald to forget her. Nilakantha swears vengeance on the unknown British trespasser and forces Lakmé to draw the culprit in through her singing. Gerald comes and is stabbed by Nilakantha. Nilakantha’s servant then helps the couple escape to a hut in the forest where Lakmé nurses Gerald’s wounds. In the hut Lakmé informs Gerald about a magical spring and the water of which that grants eternal love to the lovers who seek it. Lakmé, now deeply in love with Gerald leaves to get some of the water. The other British officer seen previously finds Gerald and reminds him of his duties. Lakmé returns with the water realising Gerald’s change in demeanour. Rather than to live with dishonour, she poisons herself. After telling Gerald this they drink the water together. Nilakantha finds their hut and enters as Lakmé is dying, learns what has happened, then she passes.
Pre-Performance Talk: 6.15pm