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Lakme and Sylvia

Donald Macleod explores Delibes's final years, and considers how far the developments in Romantic French ballet had come.

After hearing the ballet Sylvia, Tchaikovsky said that "Had I known that music, I would not have written Swan Lake." Donald Macleod surveys the life and music of French ballet masters' Herold, Adam and Delibes

In this final episode, Donald Macleod journeys through Delibes's final years, and considers how far the developments in Romantic French ballet had come. Delibes had already composed Coppélia, but his next ballet, Sylvia, was a radical departure in Delibes's symphonic approach to the score. Even Tchaikovsky considered the work a total masterpiece, and felt it cast his Swan Lake into the shadows.

In his last few years, Delibes was presented with numerous honours, including being made a Knight of the Legion of Honour. He also became composition professor at the Paris Conservatoire, despite his own admission that he knew little about fugue or counterpoint. With the vogue during this time for things Spanish, Delibes composed his popular song Les filles de Cadix, where the coquettish young girls of Cadiz want to know if their waists look slim.

Delibes at the very end of his life, was busy writing a grand opera. His previous opera Lakmé had not been the success he'd hoped for, and he considered the way forward to be some hybrid of comic opera and Wagnerian music-drama. He died having not completed the work. Whereas Lakmé, desipte its original reception, has gone on to be one of Delibes most successful and popular works.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 21 Oct 2011 18:00

Music Played

  • Léo Delibes

    Lakme - opera in 3 acts

    Conductor: Alain LOMBARD Performer: Danielle MILLET - Mezzo-soprano Performer: Mady MESPLE - Soprano Performer: Paris Opera Comique Orchestra

    • EMI.
    • 7494302.
  • Léo Delibes

    Le Roi l'a dit - opera comique in 3 acts

    Conductor: Richard BONYNGE Performer: Sumi JO - Soprano Performer: English Chamber Orchestra.

    • Decca.
    • 4406792.
  • Léo Delibes

    Sylvia - suite from the ballet

    Conductor: Charles MACKERRAS Performer: New Philharmonia Orchestra

    • EMI.
    • CDZ 7-62515-2.
  • Léo Delibes

    Le Roi s'amuse - suite

    Performer: Francesco LIBETTA - Piano

    • VAIA.
    • 1209.
  • Léo Delibes

    Les Filles de Cadix vers. for voice and orchestra

    Conductor: Steven MERCURIO Performer: Anna Maria MARTINEZ - Soprano Performer: Prague Philharmonia

    • Naxos.
    • 8557827.
  • Léo Delibes

    Lakme - opera in 3 acts

    Conductor: Alain LOMBARD Performer: Charles BURLES - Tenor Performer: Jean-Christoph BENOIT - Baritone Performer: Mady MESPLE - Soprano Performer: Roger SOYER - Bass Performer: Paris Opera Comique Chorus Performer: Paris Opera Comique Orchestra

    • EMI.
    • 7494302.

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