• A Walk with Loge's hidden operatic gems: Mireille

    In this thread in the Spanish area:

    http://operalively.com/forums/showth...-Gemas-ocultas

    member Loge will be presenting some off-the-beaten-track operas, that are among his personal favourites. It's a fascinating list, and Loge is a fascinating writer, so we will all enjoy the experience. An English translation will be presented here, synchronized with Loge's original posts, though probably not with the accuracy and dependability of a Swiss clock.

    The first one is Gounod's Mireille:
    MIREILLE
    by
    Charles Gounod




    Overture

    Mireille's overture is the longest Gounod ever wrote for the stage (and not that long to start with, just about six minutes). We can hear first a musical phrase that will be reused later as an introduction for the Fourth Act, and it's conjuring the wide open spaces with the horn and a brilliant harmony. Then, it's followed by an allegretto, a theme associated to Vincent, and the "farandoulo", the Provençal traditional folk dance we will hear in the Second Act.

    Back in 1939, with the composer Reynaldo Hahn as conductor, this overture was not performed at the beginning of the opera, but rather between the First and Second Acts. In the book "La vraie Mireille de Gounod" by Guy Ferrant, one of the sources for this series of posts, we can get some justification for this, as explained by Hahn himself: "Well, First Act is very short. If we need to stop then for ten to fifteen minutes to allow for a change of scenery, we are losing the atmosphere of Provençal's youth and poetry that Gounod so painstakingly builds". This is understandable, and much more so in the 1930s, with some technological limitations that are already overcome in our own 21st century.

    However, Hahn's other reasoning, that usually the audience is arriving late and noisy to the theater, so the overture can't be really enjoyed, it doesn't make a lot of sense, even eighty years ago. In any case, it would have been better to miss the overture, than the beginning of the opera, wouldn't it?.

    On purely musical grounds, the overture, as designed by Gounod, is really a tone poem, in praise of the Provence. In the 1874 review of the score, Gounod even took away the first twenty-four bars of the overture, as a prelude to the Fourth Act, keeping only the motifs of Mireille's love (First Act) and Saint John's chorus (Fourth Act) within the opera itself.

    All taken into account, and with due respect to Reynaldo Hahn, it seems to me* that is always better to respect Gounod's original placing.


    Overture - Geoges Prêtre - Hamburg, 1962




    *N.B.: to member Loge
    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Walk with Loge's hidden operatic gems: Mireille started by Schigolch View original post
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      2.- Mireille's Landscapes

      All the action in Mireille takes place in the Provence, one province of France. Those are real, identifiable locations except for the estate of Mireille's father, in the first act and the beginning of the fourth. For sure, however, it's in the region of Les-Baux-de-Provénce, near Arlés, and some 15 to 20 miles from Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, with the desert of La Crau in between.





      In the map, we can also find Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where Gounod was lodged during his stay in Provence.

      Les-Baux-de-Provénce (First act and beginning of Fourth act)

      This is a small region in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône. This is touristic place (only 381 permanent residents, and more than a 1,5 millions visitors). This was also more or less the population at the times of Mistral and Gounod.

      The village is located over a rocky salient, just in the border of a plateau that is the first buttress of the Alps Mountains. Here, bauxite was found for the first time in 1821. There is also a big fortress, in ruins, from which the southern plains can be seen, along with Arlés and the Camargue.


      In the post we will also feautre the following places: Tarascon (Northeast), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (five miles to the North), Arlès (10 miles to the Southeast) and the desert of La Crau (some 5 miles to the South).

      The climate is Mediterranean, with hot and dry summers. The average temperature in July and August is well into the eighties, and there are only a couple of days with some rain. In the desert itself, there is even more heat, and no rain.

      Arènes (Amphiteather) d'Arlés (Second act)

      A World Heritage Site, built by the Romans between 80 and 90 AD. It's quite similar to the Colosseum at Rome, though somewhat smaller. A central ellipse surrounded by the stands, and an exit system with many corridores and vomitories to the exterior of the building. It could seat 25,000 people.


      The first use was for the Gladiatorial Games, but towards the end of the 6th century was transformed in a Bastide, a typical urban fortress, with four towers, some two hundred houses and two chapels. In this fashion it survived until the late 18th century, when it was bought and transformed again to use for spectacles, this time bullfighting, being opened in 1830.

      Already in 1840 it was recognized by the French Govermennt as a historical monument, after a campaign by none other than the writer, at that time working as building inspector.


      Le Val d’Enfer (Third Act, first scene)

      Is a small valley excavated in the rock by the water. Its name (Hell Valley) comes from the peculiar forms created by the calcareous white rocks that are often found there. Some old tales claim that Dante got the inspiration to write the Hell passage in the Divine Comedy from this place.


      This savage spot, infested with evil spirits, is the home of Taven, a gypsy witch, that resides in La Grotte de Demoiselles. The den of the witch is just behind an embankment called The Guano of the Bat. From there, there are two paths, one leading to the Nigthmare Cave, where Taven prepared her sinister potions, and another ending at The Mandrake Cave, where we can find an stalagmite that marks the place of the witch's tomb. According to the legend, Abd-ar-Rahman, a Saracen general, buried a treasure somewhere in the caves.

      However, reality is much more mundane. From 1821 to 1935, there was a big working mine of bauxite, and the huge corridors excavated in the rock, were just made for profit. Today, there is a Sound and Light Show in the caves.


      The Bridge of Trinquetaille (Third act, Second scene)

      Trinquetaille is a small villaged in the right bank of the Rhone river. It's a very old settlement, going back to Celtic times, and was important in Antiquity as a fluvial port. The bridge is old too, dating from the 1st century, AD.



      Medieval Boat Bridge

      When the flying Ourrias arrives to the bank of the Rhone, he can't cross the river, and he calls a boatman. In 1875 a new bridge was built, made of iron and glass, as we can see in this painting by Van Gogh:




      La Crau (Fourth act, second scene)

      This is a vast plain of some 100,000 acres made basically from pebbles deposited there by the river Durance, today a tributary of the Rhone, but in ancient times flowing directly into the Mediterranean Sea.


      There is a damp Crau, to the North, due to the irrigations works during the 16th and 17th centuries, and a dry, arid Crau, to the South, that is the desert to be crossed by Mireille and there, having forgotten her hat, she got a sunstroke that will kill her. The action takes place in Saint John's day (June, 24th), a very hot date in the Provence, especially at La Crau.


      Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Fifth act)

      This coastal town was founded in the 4th century. From there, the bishops of Arlès will preach to the farmers, and they will build a church, dedicated to all Saints. The building we can see today is from the 12th century, and it looks more a small fortress, than a church.


      The old chapel, where the last act of Mireille's takes place, is a true keep, a defensive tower. There, the young provençal dies, in the arms of his lover, gazing at the bright Mediterranean.

      The 1720's Plague, that killed half the population of Marseille, and thow thirds of Arlès's, did not strike the village of Saintes, that strongly opposed to admit any refugees from Arlès. French revolutionaries suspended the cult in 1794, but soon this was revoked, and the church was to become a pilgrimage center for European gypsies, that arrive in May to pay homage to her patron saint, Sara, the Black Virgin.

      We can hear the great French tenor Georges Thill singing "Anges du Paradis", Vincent's aria of the Fifth act:



      Mon cœur est plein d'un noir souci!
      Qui l'arrête?
      Pourquoi n'est'elle pas ici?

      Anges du paradis, couvrez-la de votre aile!
      Dans les airs étendez
      votre manteau sur elle!
      Et toi, brûlant soleil d'été,
      Fais grâce à sa jeunesse,
      épargne sa beauté!
      Je l'ai vue à travers mon rêve,
      Dans la lande aux souffles de feu,
      Accourant seule vers la grève,
      Pâle et le front courbé,
      sous l'éclat du ciel bleu,
      Invoquant les Saintes et Dieu!

      Anges du paradis, couvrez-la de votre aile!
      Dans les airs étendez
      votre manteau sur elle!
      Et toi, brûlant soleil d'été,
      Fais grâce à sa jeunesse,
      épargne sa beauté!
      My heart is filled with black forebodings!
      Who detains her?
      Why is she not here?

      Angels of Paradise, cover her with your wings!
      Up in heaven, spread your cloak above her!
      And you, fiery summer sun,
      Have mercy on her youth, spare her beauty!
      I saw her in my dream
      On the heath where a fiery breath blows,
      Running alone towards the beach,
      Pale, her brow bent under the glare of the blue sky,
      Invoking the Holy Women and God!




      Angels of Paradise, cover her with your wings!
      Up in heaven, spread your cloak above her!
      And you, fiery summer sun,
      Have mercy on her youth, spare her beauty!


      English translation of the aria provided by:
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      3.-First act: scenes 1,2,3

      (You can find the English libretto at: http://www.opera-guide.ch/opera.php?id=138&uilang=en)

      Provence, around 1840. All events in the opera takes place in one day, from 10 AM in Saint John's Eve to midday, next day.

      A white mulberry plantation.

      A group of young countrywomen are collecting withe mulberry's leaves to feed the silkworms.



      Taven, a gypsy with an ill-famed reputation as a sorcerer, and living in a cave on the Hell Valley's mountains, chastises the girls, and prophesied they will soon known love pains. Clémence is positive this won't never happen to her, and a beautiful prince will take her away from Provence, and into a magnificent castle.



      TAVEN
      (s'arrêtant au fond,
      appuyée sur son bâton)
      Ecoutez-les chanter et rire,
      Ces fillettes au coeur joyeux!
      Elles ne savent pas qu'un charme les attire
      Au piège du chasseur,
      comme l'oiseau des cieux;
      Et qu'un jour vient où l'on soupire
      Avec des larmes dans les yeux!
      Ecoutez-les chanter et rire,
      Ces fillettes au cœur joyeux!

      CLEMENCE ET LES JEUNES FILLES
      (riant)
      C'est Taven la sorcière
      Avec son aiguillon,
      Et son vieux cotillon,
      Plus gris que la poussière!
      C'est Taven la sorcière
      Avec son aiguillon!
      Dans notre humble sillon
      Elle a jeté sa pierre!
      C'est Taven la sorcière
      Avec son aiguillon!

      QUELQUES FILLES
      Qu'il vienne, le chasseur!...
      moi, je ris de son piège.

      AUTRES FILLES
      Le vert printemps ne craint
      ni le froid ni la neige!

      QUELQUES FILLES
      L'oiseau maître de l'air
      échappe aux oiseleurs!

      AUTRES FILLES
      Nos chansons feront fuir
      les soucis et les pleurs!

      (Taven va s'asseoir à l'écart,
      hochant la tête d'un air de doute.)

      CLEMENCE
      Moi, si par aventure,
      Quelque prince amoureux
      venait m'offrir sa main,
      Jeune, galant,
      bien fait et de noble stature,
      Je me ferais conduire au palais,
      dès demain!
      Impératrice et souveraine,
      Avec un long manteau, qui traîne,
      Doublé d'hermine et brodé d'or,
      Parmi vous, j'en ris à l'avance,
      Je reviendrais pour voir encor,
      Mon pays de Provence!
      TAVEN
      Listen to their songs and laughter,
      Merry-hearted little girls!
      They do not know that a lure draws them
      Towards the hunter's trap, like the birds of heaven;
      And that the day comes when one sighs
      With tears in one's eyes!
      Listen to their songs and laughter,
      Merry-hearted little girls!




      CLÉMENCE AND GIRLS
      Here is Taven the witch
      Complete with her goad
      And her old bodice
      Duller than dust!
      Here is Taven the witch
      Complete with her goad!
      She has cast her stone
      Into our humble furrow!
      Here is Taven the witch
      Complete with her goad!


      AZALAIS
      Let the hunter come… his trap makes me laugh.


      NORADE
      Green Spring fears neither cold, nor snow!


      AZALAIS
      The bird, sovereign of the air, ewapes from other birds!


      NORADE
      Our songs will chase away troubles and tears!





      CLÉMENCE
      As for me, should some loving prince
      Young, courteous, comely and of noble gait,
      Chance to offer me his hand,
      I should have him lead me to his palace tomorrow!
      Empress and sovereign lady,
      With lengthy robes dragging on the ground,
      Lined with hermin and embroidered with gold,
      Among you, - it makes me laugh already.
      I should come back to look once more
      Upon our beautiful land of Provence.

      Mireille, the daughter of the plantation's owner, is hearing her friend singing, but she is more realistic, and will be happy with a man declaring his love for her, even if he is poor, instead of a rich prince:


      http://www.divshare.com/flash/playli...d=15084646-416

      MIREILLE
      Et moi, si, par hasard,
      quelque jeune garçon,
      Fût-il pauvre et timide
      et honteux de lui-même,
      Me disait doucement:
      Mireille, je vous aime!
      J'écouterais mon coeur
      plutôt que ma raison;
      Et sans souci des rires ni du blâme,
      Comme dans une eau claire
      ayant lu dans son âme,
      Je lui tendrais la main...
      et je serais sa femme.
      MIREILLE
      And I, should some youth,
      Even though poor and shy and self-conscious,
      Chance to tell me softly: "Mireille, I love you!"
      I should listen to my heart rather than my reason,
      And mindless alike of derision and censure
      Having read in his soul as in a limpid brook
      I should give him my hand… and I should be his wife.

      This candid stanza, a small musical masterpiece, is the perfect portrait of Mireille's gentle nature. Those are the first words of Mireille in the opera, and the soprano must sing them well, but also be the vocal actress. The young girl is just baring her soul (though she don't really need any "chance", as she has already meet the man of his dreams). This beautiful, serene, smiling young woman is not irresponsible, but she will fight for her love with her friends, and with his father. "And mindless alike of derision and censure...I should give him my hand...and I should be his wife". Those thirthy bars are one of Gounod's best efforts ever.

      The rest of the girls gently tease Mireille, as they all know that she is in love with Vincent, a young and modest artisan. They pick up her tools, and Mireille is now alone with Taven.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      4.- The Valse-Ariette “O, légère hirondelle”

      At this place, with Mireille's first appearance still fresh, is where, for the last seventy-five years, the valse-ariette, “O, légère hirondelle”, has been performed. This is an aria designed to allow the soprano to show off her skills, with staccato singing, scales, trills,... In fact, it's such a good showcase that many singers include the piece in her recitals and recordings, and it has become the most popular fragment of the opera.

      Funny, because this arietta with a vals rhythm was not in the original score. Gounod, much aware of the seriousness and nobility of the Provençal drama, was not interested in presenting Mireille under such a light view, but he was forced to do it, just a few months after the premiere, even if that means an added problem to cast the role. Taking this piece away, we need a lyrical soprano with stamina, to sing the long part, with some difficult arias like "Trahir Vincent" or the "La Crau" aria. However, with the inclusion of the ariette, coloratura was also required, and so a compromise between a light and a lyrical soprano, was needed.

      We will explain later, in coming posts, and in detail why this fragment was introduced, along with many other changes in the score.

      But this is the right place to mention some of the many sopranos that have been singing the ariette since the beginning of recorded music.

      First, the libretto:


      O légère hirondelle,
      Messagère fidèle
      Vers mon ami
      Vole gaîment
      Et conte-lui
      Mon doux tourment,
      Parle-lui, pour moi-même,
      Et dis-lui que je l'aime!
      Vincent peut croire à mon serment!
      Vole, vole gaîment! ah!
      O légère hirondelle,
      Messagère fidèle
      Vers mon ami
      Vole gaîment
      Vole, vole gaîment! ah!
      ¡Oh, fast swallow,
      trusted messenger,
      fly in joy
      to my true love
      and tell him
      about my sweet torment;
      talk him about me
      about how much I love him.
      He can trust my oath,
      Vincent can trust me!
      Fly, fly in joy!
      oh, fast swallow,
      trusted messenger,
      fly in joy
      to my true love!

      Singers from the beginning of the 20th century:
      Maria Galvani (1906)
      Antonina Nezhdanova (1908)
      Miliza Korjus

      mid 20th century:
      Janine Micheau (1953)
      Mado Robin (1958)
      Renée Doria (1962)

      late 20th century:
      Joan Sutherland (1979)
      Edita Gruberova

      21st century:
      Sumi Jo

      Any favourite, among those or other sopranos?
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      5.- First act (Fourth and Fifth scenes)

      After the departure of her friends, Mireille informes Taven that she is really in love with Vincent. The witch, anticipating problems arising in this relationship of a rich girl and a poor boy, promises Mireille that she will help her, and leaves. Then we welcome Vincent, that sings a nice duet of love with Mireille. He talks about his family, and assures Mireille she is even more beautiful than his sister, Vincenette (not that Vincent's parents were a prodigy of originality christening their children). Mireille, really happy to be so flattered by his fiancée, will spend in this sweet occupation all morning, but she is required by her friends.

      Before leaving, Mireille, seized by a sudden foreboding, told Vincent that is any misfortune strikes her, or him, they will go the old Chapel of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, to entrust themselves to all Saints, and the young man agrees.

      Two versions of those scenes:

      Lausanne, 1993, with Danielle Borst and Christian Papis (from "Vincennette a vôtre age"):




      Paris, 2009, with Inva Mula and Charles Castronovo




      MIREILLE
      Le ciel rayonne!
      L'oiseau chante!
      Aujourd'hui rien ne peut m'attrister!

      (Apercevant Vincent qui passe au fond, sous les arbres.)

      C'est toi, Vincent?

      VINCENT
      Mireille!

      (Il fait quelques pas pour s'éloigner)

      MIREILLE
      Où donc vas-tu si vite?

      VINCENT
      A courir par les prés le beau temps nous invite.

      MIREILLE
      Ne peux-tu t'arrêter près de moi pour causer?

      (S'asseyant sur un banc de gazon.)

      Je suis lasse et je veux ici me reposer.

      VINCENT
      (s'approchant de Mireille)
      Ah! si je suivais mon envie,
      Mireille, à vos côtés je passerais ma vie!
      Là-bas, dans notre humble maison,
      Je suis seul en toute saison
      Avec ma soeur et mon vieux père.
      Le vieux vannier ne parle guère,
      Ma soeur travaille et chante...
      Et j'écoute en rêvant.

      MIREILLE
      Ta soeur, Vincent...
      Jamais tu ne m'as parlé d'elle,
      Comment la nomme-t-on? est-elle jeune et belle?

      VINCENT
      Vincenette â votre âge et vous lui ressemblez.
      Mais comme l'humble fleur des blés
      Est soeur de la rose vermeille,
      Vincenette est soeur de Mireille!
      Devant les garçons assemblés
      Si vous paraissiez auprès d'elle,
      C'est vous qui seriez la plus belle!

      MIREILLE
      (un peu confuse)
      Oh! c'Vincent,
      Comme il sait gentiment tout dire!
      Son parler est si caressant
      Qu'on ne peut s'empêcher d'en rire!
      Oh! c'Vincent!

      VINCENT
      Comme Vincent,
      Chacun ici peut vous le dire!
      D'un regard tendre et caressant
      Chacun vous suit et vous admire,
      Comme Vincent!

      MIREILLE
      Ainsi ta saur est belle fille,
      Et plus qu'elle pourtant tu me trouves gentille!

      VINCENT
      Oui, certes, et de beaucoup!

      MIREILLE
      Pourquoi,
      Vincent?... Qu'ai-je do plus, pour toi?

      VINCENT
      De plus!
      Et qu'a l'oiseau de Dieu qui vole et fend l'espace
      De plus que le grillon
      Caché dans le sillon,
      Sinon la beauté même, et le chant et la grâce!
      De mes ennuis, par un refrain moqueur,
      Vincenette parfois en riant me console;
      Mais de vous la moindre parole
      Enchante mon oreille et réjouit mon coeur!

      MIREILLE
      Oh! c'Vincent!, etc.

      VINCENT
      (l'attirant dans ses bras avec amour)
      Comme Vincent, etc


      MIREILLE
      Mais le temps passe... Et j'oublie à t'entendre
      Que les autres sont à m'attendre.
      Adieu, Vincent! Adieu, gentil vannier;
      Viens m'aider à poser sur mon front mon panier.

      LE CHŒUR
      (dans la coulisse)
      Mireille!

      MIREILLE
      (se dégageant de l'étreinte amoureuse de Vincent)
      On me cherche! On m'appelle!
      Vite séparons-nous!...

      VINCENT
      (effleurant son front d'un baiser)
      Adieu, Mireille! Adieu!...

      MIREILLE
      (pâle et chancelante sous le baiser de Vincent)
      Écoute et souviens-toi! Sous le regard de Dieu,
      Devant le seuil béni de l'antique chapelle,
      Je te donne, Vincent, un pieux rendez-vous!
      Si jamais le malheur vient frapper l'un de nous
      Aux Saintes tous les deux!... Aux Saintes à genoux!

      VINCENT
      Oui, adieu, adieu!

      MIREILLE
      Adieu!

      (Ils se séparent)

      LE CHŒUR
      (dans la coulisse)
      Chantez, chantez, Magnanarelles; etc.
      MIREILLE
      The sky is dazzling!
      The bird is singing!
      Today, nothing can make me sad!




      Is that you, Vincent?

      VINCENT
      Mireille!



      MIREILLE
      Where are you going so fast?

      VINCENT
      The fair weather invites us to roam across the fields.

      MIREILLE
      Can you not stay with me and chat awhile?



      I am weary and want to rest here.

      VINCENT
      Ah! were I to follow my wishes,
      Mireille, I should spend my whole life next to you!
      Over there, in our humble home,
      I am always alone,
      With my sister and my old father.
      The old weaver is not over-talkative,
      My sister sings as she works and I dream as I listen.



      MIREILLE
      Your sister, Vincent! you never spoke of her before.
      What is her name?
      Is she young and beautiful?


      VINCENT
      Vincenette is your age and you look like her.
      But just as the lowly field-flower
      Is sister to the red row,
      So is Vincenette sister to Mireille!
      Should you appear next to her
      In front of all the village lads,
      You would be the fairer one!

      MIREILLE
      Oh! that Vincent,
      How sweetly he puts things!
      His speech is so caressing
      That one cannot help smiling at it!
      Oh! that Vincent!


      VINCENT
      Like Vincent,
      Anyone could tell you the same thing!
      With a tender and caressing look
      Everyone follows and admires you,
      Like Vincent!

      MIREILLE
      And so your sister is a handsome girl,
      And yet you find me prettier than her!

      VINCENT
      Yes, I do, much prettier!

      MIREILLE
      Why,
      Vincent? What more have I got, in your eye?

      VINCENT
      What more?
      What more has God's bird, rending the air in flight,
      Got than the cricket
      Hidden in the furrow,
      If not beauty itself, and his song, and his grace!
      With a mocking ditty, Vincenette sometimes
      Laughingly comforts me when I am sad;
      But from you, every single word
      Delights my ear and rejoices my heart!

      MIREILLE
      Oh! that Vincent! etc.

      VINCENT
      Like Vincent, etc.


      MIREILLE
      But time flies by…
      And as I listen to you, I forget
      That the others are waiting for me over there.
      Farewell Vincent! Farewell, sweet weaver;
      Come and help me place my basket on my head.

      CHORUS
      Mireille!


      MIREILLE
      They are looking for me!
      They are calling me!
      Quickly, let us part!…


      VINCENT
      Farewell, Mireille! Farewell!

      MIREILLE
      Listen and remember! Under God's eye,
      On the blessed threshold of the old chapel,
      Let me give you, o Vincent, a holy appointment!
      Should ever some misfortune come to strike either of us,
      We must meet at the Saintes!… At the Saintes on our knees!


      VINCENT
      Yes, farewell, farewell!

      MIREILLE
      Farewell!


      CHORUS
      Sing, sing, cocoon-pickers, etc.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      6.- Two celebrities meet

      Mireille is a five act opera, with a libretto by Michel Carré, based on an epic poem by Fréderic Mistral, written originally in Occitan. Mistral was born in Maillane (Provence) in 1830, and was an ardent supporter of Provence's independence from France. In 1851 he joined the poet Joseph Roumanille to found The Félibrige, an association to defend and promote Occitan language and literature, also with the help of Alphonse Lamartine. From his masia, Mistral worked on find words to publish an Occitan dictionary, as well as song collections.

      Mirèio (Mireille) was his most important work, published in 1859, after eight years of creative effort. The traditional Occitan spelling was Mirelha, but Mistral and Roumanille decided to use a simplified spelling, that is known since then as Mistralian, instead of the Classical, received from the Trobadours. Other Mistral works include Calendau, Nerto, Lis isclo d’or (“The Golden Islands”), Lis oulivado (“The Olivadas”), and a poem on the river Rhone. He was considered the most prominent Occitan writer, received the Nobel Prize in Literature (with the Spanish writer José Echegaray) and died in 1914.

      Mirèio was a big sucess. His French translation, published in Paris, the year 1859, made Mistral a well known writer in the French capital. Gounod read the novel during the winter of 1862-63 and, impressed by the strenght of the original, and the real life story, decided to write an opera. He obtained Mistral's agreement, and asked Michel Carré to work in the libretto. But the, Gounod thought that he needed to go to Provence itself, to talk with Mistral, to look at the places in the novel.



      And he did!. Perhaps the first time a composer went in search of inspiration to the same place he wanted to evoke. In the Spring of 1863, Gounod arrived to Mallaine, but he couldn't stay there, as Mistral lived with his ancient mother, and was not able to lodge the writer in his house. No problem, Gonoud just booked a room in a hotel located at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, near Mallaine. He brought a piano from Nîmes, and visited Mistral daily. With him, or alone, Gounod strolled the places where Mireille was born, and suffered. He became acquainted with Les Baux, the Val d’Enfer, the desert of La Crau, the Camargue and the Church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

      While in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer he went up the spiral staircase to the Old Chapel as he wrote to his wife, in April, 13th, 1863: "I walked the terrace on the upper Chapel, from where the dying Mireille is looking at the impressive Sea, and the horizon that is for her the way to Eternity". Adding, "This is a nice ending for the last act, and when you see those things, your only hope is that Mireille will live again among the Angels, up there, in Heaven".

      This was the music inside Gounod's head (hopefully, in better sound) while he contemplated in a rapture of emotion the Mediterranean Sea, from the Old Chapel of the Church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer:



      MIREILLE
      Sainte ivresse! divine extase!
      Pur transport dont mon cœur s'embrase!
      Rêve heureux! doux enchantement!
      Le ciel même s'ouvre et s'enflamme!
      Et dans l'air et dans mon âme
      Tout est joie et rayonnement !

      (Mireille retombe épuisée dans les bras de Vincent)

      VINCENT
      Grand Dieu!

      VINCENETTE
      (accourant)
      Mireille!... Accourez!...

      RAMON
      Mireille!... Mon enfant!

      MIREILLE
      Vous pleurez, vous pleurez!...

      VINCENETTE, VINCENT, RAMON
      Dieu! quelle ardeur étrange
      En ses yeux égarés!

      RAMON
      Ne meurs pas, chère enfant,
      ne meurs pas!...
      Et pardonne!

      (A Vincent)

      Toi, sauve-la, Vincent!... je te la donne!

      MIREILLE
      Il est trop tard!
      Voyez, le ciel rayonne,
      Et les Saintes viennent à moi
      Pour me donner la main.
      Je les vois!...

      VINCENT
      Ah! je veux les suivre avec toi!

      TOUS
      Sainte ivresse! Divine extase! etc

      (Les fidèles sont entrés
      peu à peu et entourent Mireille.)

      MIREILLE
      (extasiée)
      Voyez! Voyez! l'onde étincelle!
      La mer est calme et le ciel bleu!
      Adieu, Vincent! Adieu!

      (Elle meurt)

      VINCENT
      Ô mort!
      Emporte-moi dans la tombe avec elle!

      UNE VOIX
      (d'en haut)
      O Mireille,
      suis-nous vers le divin séjour,
      Viens goûter dans les Cieux
      la douceur infinie,
      Et la grâce ineffable,
      et l'ivresse bénie
      De l'éternel amour!...

      TOUS
      Son âme a pris son vol vers Dieu!
      Un doux parfum
      embaume le Saint Lieu!
      MIREILLE
      Holy elation! Divine ecstasy!
      My heart is consumed by a pure felicity!
      Blessed dream! Sweet witchcraft!
      Heaven itself opens up and blazes!
      And in the air as in my soul
      There is nought but joy and bliss!




      VINCENT
      God almighty!

      VINCENETTE
      Mireille! Come quickly, all of you!

      RAMON
      Mireille! My child!

      MIREILLE
      Are you weeping? Are you weeping?

      VINCENETTE, VINCENT, RAMON
      God! What a strange flame
      Burns in her distraught eyes!

      RAMON
      You must not die, darling child, you must not! Forgive
      me !
      You save her, Vincent! She is yours now!





      MIREILLE
      It is too late! See, what a glare in the sky,
      The Holy Women are coming down to me
      To give me their hands. I can see them!




      VINCENT
      Ah! I will follow them with you!

      EVERYONE
      Holy elation! Divine ecstasy! etc.





      MIREILLE
      See! See! The sea sparkles!
      The waves are calm and the sky is blue!
      Farewell, Vincent! Farewell!



      VINCENT
      O Death! Take me down to the tomb with her!



      A VOICE
      O Mireille, follow us to the divine sojourn,
      Come and enjoy in heaven the infinite sweetness,
      The ineffable grace and the blessed elation
      Of eternal love!



      EVERYONE
      Her soul has taken flight towards God!
      A sweet fragrance perfumes the holy place!

    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Occitan is a beautiful language. It's spoken mainly in Southern France and its closest relative is Catalan.

      In Kaija Saariaho's splendid opera L'amour de Loin, the protagonist is a trobadour, Jaufré Rudel, that was using Occitan as his native language. This is perhaps his best known poem, "Lanquan li jorn son lonc e may":

      Lanquan li jorn son lonc e may
      M'es belhs dous chans d'auzelhs de lonh,
      E quan mi suy partitz de lay,
      Remembra'm d'un' amor de lonh.
      Vau de talan embroncx e clis
      Si que chans ni flors d'albespis
      No-m valon plus que l'yverns gelatz

      Be tenc lo Senhor per veray
      Per que formet sest' amor de lonh,
      Mas per un ben que m'en eschay
      N'ai dos mals, quar tant suy de lonh.
      A! quar no fuy lai pelegris,
      Si que mos fustz e mos tapis
      Fos pels sieus belhs huelhs remiratz!

      Be'm parra joys quan li querray,
      Per amor Dieu, l'ostal de lonh,
      E, s'a lieys platz, alberguarai
      Pres de lieys, si be'm suy de lonh,
      Qu'aissi es lo parlamens fis
      Quan drutz lonhdas et tan vezis
      Qu'ab cortes ginh jauzis solatz.

      Iratz e dolens m'en partray,
      S'ieu no vey sest' amor de lonh.
      No'm sai quora mais la veyrai,
      que tan son nostras terras lonh.
      Assatz hi a pas e camis,
      e per aisso no'n suy devis.
      Mas tot sia cum a lieys platz

      Jamai d'amor no'm jauziray
      Si no'm jau d'est' amor de lonh,
      que mielher ni gensor no'n sai
      ves nulha part, ni pres ni lonh.
      Tant es sos pretz ricx e sobris
      Que lai el reng dels Sarrasis
      fos hieu per lieys chaitius clamatz

      Dieus que fetz tot quant ve ni vay
      E formet sest'amor de lonh
      Mi don poder, que cor be n'ai,
      Qu'ieu veya sest'amor de lonh,
      Verayamen en luec aizis,
      Si que las cambras e'l jardis
      Mi resemblo novels palatz.

      Ver ditz qui m'apella lechay
      e deziros d'amor de lonh,
      que nulhs autres joys tan no'm play
      Cum jauzimen d'amor de lonh.
      Mas so qu'ieu vuelh m'es tant ahis,
      Qu'enaissi'm fadet mos pairis
      Qu'ieu ames e nos fos amatz.
      During May, when the days are long,
      I admire the song of the birds from far away
      and when I have gone away from there
      I remember a love far away.
      I go scowling, with my head down
      so much that songs and hawthorn flowers
      aren't better, to me, than the frozen Winter.

      I trust the Lord's fairness
      in having formed this faraway love,
      but for each consolation I achieve
      I get two ills, because I am so far away.
      Ah! Why didn't I go there as a pilgrim,
      so that my staff and hooded cloak
      would be beheld by her beautiful eyes!

      It will certainly feel like joy when I ask her,
      for the love of god, to be hosted;
      and, if she likes it, I shall lodge
      near her, although I come from far away.
      Conversation is so pleasant
      when the faraway lover is so close
      that he would long to be welcome with kind intentions.

      Sad and pained shall I depart
      if I don't see this faraway love.
      I don't know when ever I shall see her,
      so far away our countries are.
      So many are the crossings and the roads
      that I can't tell.
      But be everything as she likes it.

      Never shall I enjoy love
      unless I enjoy this faraway love,
      since I don't know of a better and worthier one
      anywhere, near or far away.
      So abundant and sovereign her merits are
      that down there, in the Saracen's realm,
      I wish I were held in thrall for her sake.

      God, who created all that comes and goes
      and shaped this faraway love,
      give me strength, since I already have the intention,
      so that I see this love far away
      in reality and in a fitting place
      so that rooms and gardens
      shall seem to me to be new palaces

      He is true who calls me grasping
      and longing for a faraway love
      since no other merriment pleases me as much
      as enjoying a faraway love.
      But that which I want is denied to me
      since my godfather made it so
      that I love and am not loved.

      This is another Rudel's poem, "Quan lo rossinhols", sang with the accompaniment of period instruments:

    1. HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
      HarpsichordConcerto -
      The only version of this opera available? Marc Minkowski directing.

    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      We will review later the full discography, but there are a couple of other versions in DVD:





      as well as others in CD (more interesting).
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      7.- Second act


      Same day than the First act, just after midday.

      According to the libretto we are at "Les arènes d'Arles", that means the Amphitheater, but we are not told is outside or inside. In the world premiere, it was inside, as we can see in the lithograph below:


      During the 19th century, there were inside the Amphitheater some shops, stalls, ... a small market, indeed.

      However, the more usual staging is outside of the monument.

      In any case, the beginning of the act present a group of peasants singing and dancing, a typical farandole. Mireille and Vincent, not arriving together, join the party. They are requested to sing a love song, and they start a traditional Provençal tune: (Chanson de Magalie: “La brise est douce et parfumée”). Some runners that are going to compete in a race arrive, and everyone, except Mireille, go to see the race.

      In the 2009 performance, with Inva Mula and Charles Castronovo, we can watch the full scene, except the Amphitheater itself. Neither inside, nor outside, just in the middle of the countryside, so there is no need to argue one way or the other. In the second youtube, we can hear the song of Magalie, by Janette Vivalda and Nicolai Gedda, in 1954:



      Inva Mula, Charles Castronovo
      París, 2009
      Choeur et orchestre de l'Opéra national de Paris.
      Conductor: Marc Minkowski




      Janette Vivalda, Nicolai Gedda
      Aix-en-Provence, 1954
      Orchestra of Paris Conservatory, Choirs from the Festival de Aix-en-Provence
      Conductor: André Cluytens




      CHŒUR ET DANSE
      La Farandole
      Joyeuse et folle
      Entraîne au bruit des chansons
      Les filles et les garçons!
      De Nimes à Tarascon,
      Et d'Arles au pays gascon,
      La Farandole
      Joyeuse et folle
      Entraîne au bruit des chansons

      Scène 2

      (Les mêmes. Mireille,
      et toute la bande des jeunes
      filles Arlésiennes)

      LES JOUVENCEAUX
      Amis, voici Mireille,
      La belle sans pareille!

      LES JEUNES FILLES
      (bas, en riant entre elles)
      Et l'amoureux Vincent,
      qui l'attendait là-bas,
      S'empresse d'accourir
      au-devant de ses pas!

      (Vincent accourt tout essoufflée: Il s'arrête à
      la vue de Mireille.)

      C'est pour lui qu'elle vient!
      Et Vincent vient, pour elle!

      Scène 3

      LE CHOEUR
      Bonjour, Vincent!
      Bonjour, la belle!
      Chantez-nous à vous deux
      quelque chanson d'amour.

      VINCENT
      Eh bien, que Mireille commence!

      MIREILLE
      Puisque Vincent le veut,
      amis, faites silence,
      Nous allons chanter, tour à tour!

      Chanson de Magali

      La brise est douce et parfumée,
      L'oiseau s'endort sous la ramée
      Au fond du bois silencieux!
      La nuit sur nous
      étend son voile;
      Et dans les cieux
      Je vois une amoureuse étoile
      Luire à mes yeux!

      VINCENT
      O Magali, ma bien-aimée,
      Fuyons tous deux sous la ramée,
      Au fond du bois silencieux!
      La nuit sur nous étend ses voiles
      Et tes beaux yeux
      Vont faire pâlir les étoiles
      Au sein des cieux!

      MIREILLE
      Non, non, je me fais hirondelle,
      Et je m'envole à tire-d'aile!
      Tu peux aller au bois seulet!

      VINCENT
      Adieu donc! fuis à perdre haleine,
      Pauvre oiselet!
      L'oiseleur te prendra sans peine
      En son filet.

      MIREILLE
      C'est en vain que tu me crois prise;
      Je suis nuage!

      VINCENT
      Et moi, la brise,
      Je t'emporte sur un rayon!

      MIREILLE
      Je suis le bluet qui sommeille
      Dans le sillon...

      VINCENT
      Pour t'avoir, je me fais abeille
      Ou papillon.

      MIREILLE
      Le cloître enfin m'ouvre ses portes.

      VINCENT
      Je suis le missel que tu portes
      C'est moi qui te consolerai.

      MIREILLE
      Si tu me suis au monastère,
      Là je mourrai!

      VINCENT
      Alors je me ferai la terre;
      Et je t'aurai!

      MIREILLE
      Maintenant je me crois aimée!
      Fuyons tous deux sous la ramée,
      Au fond du bois silencieux!
      La, nuit sur nous
      étend son voile;
      Et dans les cieux
      Je vois une amoureuse étoile,
      Luire à mes yeux!

      VINCENT ET MIREILLE
      La nuit sur nous
      étend son voile;
      Et dans les cieux
      Je vois une amoureuse étoile
      Luire à mes yeux!

      CHOEUR
      Comme le jour au sein des cieux,
      Comme une étoile,
      Dans l'air sans voile,
      L'amour rayonne dans leurs yeux!

      (Fanfares joyeuses.
      Rires et cris confus au-dehors.
      Mireille et Vincent sont séparés
      par dis foule qui
      envahit le théâtre.)

      UN ARLESIEN
      Place, place aux coureurs!
      Sur l'arène brûlante
      au signal ils vont s'élancer!
      Landry va disputer le prix à Lagalante!
      Qu'ils se donnent la main
      et l'on peut commencer!

      LE CHOEUR
      C'est le signal!... courons!...vite!
      Il faut se presser!

      La Farandole
      Joyeuse et folle
      Entraîne au bruit des chansons
      Les filles et les garçons!
      Le bon muscat de Baume et le férigoulet
      Se boivent à la régalade
      Le rire et la chanson,
      amis du gobelet,
      Guérissent plus d'un coeur malade...
      DANCERS
      The Farandole,
      Merry and crazy,
      To the sound of singing
      Carries away the girls and the lads!

      DRINKERS
      What shouts! What joy!
      From Nîmes to Tarascon,
      And from Arles to Gasconny,
      Everyone is making merry and feasting!
      The good muscat from Baume and the Férigoulet
      Are poured down parched throats!
      And songs and laughter, friends to drinking,
      Heal many a love-lorn heart!…
      Long live the wine from Baume and the Férigoulet!


      SCENE TWO

      LADS
      Friends, here comes Mireille,
      The peerless beauty!

      GIRLS
      And the loving Vincent, who was waiting for her,
      Hurries from his corner to meet her!

      VIOLANE
      She has come for his sake!

      AZALAIS
      And Vincent has come for hers!


      SCENE THREE

      GIRLS
      Good-day, Vincent!

      LADS
      Good-day, fair girl!

      CHORUS
      Why don’t the two of you sing us some love-song?

      VINCENT
      Well, let Mireille begin.

      MIREILLE
      Since Vincent wants it, pray be silent, friends,
      We shall sing one after the other!

      Magali’s Song

      The breeze is soft and fragrant.
      The bird is failing asleep under the leaves,
      Deep inside the silent wood!
      Night spreads its veil over us
      And high up in heaven
      I can see a love-lorn star
      Shining in my eyes!

      VINCENT
      O Magali, my beloved,
      Let us escape under the leaves,
      Deep inside the silent wood!
      Night spreads its veil over us
      And your lovely eyes
      Will make the stars dwindle
      High up in heaven!

      MIREILLE
      No, no, I turn myself into a swallow
      And disappear in rapid flight!
      You can go to the wood by yourself!

      VINCENT
      Farewell, then! Fly as fast as you can,
      Poor little bird!
      The bird-catcher will easily catch you
      In his snare!

      MIREILLE
      In vain do you think me caught,
      I am a cloud!

      VINCENT
      And I am the breeze
      And carry you away on a sunbeam!

      MIREILLE
      I am the cornflower slumbering
      In a furrow.

      VINCENT
      In order to kiss you, I become a bee
      Or a butterfly.

      MIREILLE
      At last, the convent opens its doors to me.

      VINCENT
      I am the prayer-book you carry;
      I shall be there to comfort you.

      MIREILLE
      If you follow me in the nunnery,
      I shall die there!

      VINCENT
      Then I shall become the earth
      And I shall receive you!

      MIREILLE
      Now I do believe you love me!
      Let us escape under the leaves,
      Deep inside the silent wood!
      Night spreads its veil over us
      And high up in heaven
      I can see a love-lorn star
      Shining in my eyes!

      VINCENT AND MIREILLE
      Night spreads its veil over us, etc.

      GIRLS AND LADS
      Like daylight in the sky,
      Like a star
      In the clear air,
      Love shines in their eyes!

      A MAN FROM ARLES
      Give way to the runners! In the stifling arena
      They shall rush off at the given signal!
      Landry will vie for the prize with Lagalante!
      Let them shake hands and we can begin!

      VOICES
      Here is the signal! Let us go! Quickly, we must hurry!

      According to Joseph Canteloube, that was a compiler of Provençal's folklore music, at the manner of Kodaly in Hungary or Vaughan-Williams in England, the traditional song "Margarido, ma mio" was the inspiration for Mistral to wrote the fragment, while Gounod adapted the music of other song: "Bouenjour, lou roussignou". The alternating rhythms in 9/8 and 6/8 are used to suggest folklore music.




      Taven takes advantage of Mireille's being alone, to warn her there are three men aspiring to marry her: the shepherd Alari, the muleteer Pascual and the rich rancher Ourrias (Song: “Voici la saison mignonne”). Taven knows Mireille's heart is already occupied by a fourth man, so she wants the young girl to be aware of the situation:

      This is the warning in the voice of Jane Rhodes:





      TAVEN
      Voici la saison, mignonne,
      Où les galants font leur choix!...
      L'amour vole et papillonne
      Par les prés et par les bois!
      Les jouvenceaux sont en quête
      De filles à marier...
      La belle fait la coquette,
      Le père se fait prier,
      Et plus d'un anneau se donne,
      Qui passe à dé jolis doigts!
      Voici la saison, mignonne,
      Où les, galants font leurs choix!

      MIREILLE
      (tristement)
      Oui, c'est le temps des accord ailles!
      Mais pourquoi parler de cela?

      TAVEN
      Tout à l'heure, en rôdant par là,
      Le long de ces vieilles murailles,
      J'ai vu trois galants dont j'ai ri,
      Se conter leurs amours rivales,
      Ourrias le dompteur de taureaux,
      Alari le berger,
      et Pascoul le gardeur de cavales...

      MIREILLE
      Eh bien?

      TAVEN
      A leurs propos, s'il faut ajouter foi,
      Celle qu'ils ont choisie et qu'ils aiment...
      c'est toi!

      MIREILLE
      Moi!

      TAVEN
      Oui!... Voilà la saison, mignonne,
      Où les galants font leur choix.. etc.
      TAVEN
      Well, Mireille, are you not going with them?
      Come here! I have something to tell you in confidence.

      MIREILLE
      Speak, good Taven!

      TAVEN
      Yes, yes, you think me good
      Because I promised to favour your love!

      MIREILLE
      It may be so! But speak all the same!

      TAVEN
      Here comes the season, my sweet,
      When the beaux make their choice!
      Love flits around like a butterfly
      All over the fields and the woods!
      The youths are looking
      For their future wives…
      The girls look coquettish,
      The fathers look on with mock severity;
      And more than one ring is given away
      And slipped on some pretty finger!
      Here comes the season, my sweet,
      When the beaux make their choice!

      MIREILLE
      Yes, this is the time for betrothals!
      But why should you mention it?

      TAVEN
      Just now, as I was roaming around
      Along the old walls
      I saw three beaux, who made rne laugh,
      Tell each other of their rival loves;
      Ourrias the bull-tamer; Alari, the shepherd;
      And Pascoul, the mare-tender…

      MIREILLE
      Well?

      TAVEN
      If their words are to be believed,
      You are the one they have chosen for their true love!

      MIREILLE
      Me!

      TAVEN
      Yes! Here comes the season, my sweet,
      When the beaux make their choice, etc.

      MIREILLE
      Could I marry and love another than Vincent?
      No! neither my father, nor God could make me!

      TAVEN
      Yet fear a father’s anger!
      Beware! I thought it better to warn you!

      Mireille is certain of her love for Vincent, so she disregards Taven's warning.

      We can hear three sopranos singing the piece:


      Michelle Command, in 1970:




      Valerie Masterson, in 1980:




      Ermonela Jaho, in 2007:




      MIREILLE
      Trahir Vincent, vraiment ce serait être file!
      Quand passe le bonheur,
      s'il n'est pris, il s'envole.

      Mon cœur ne peut changer!
      Souviens-toi que je t'aime!
      Vincent, ô mon Vincent,
      pourquoi nous affliger?
      Ta triste solitude et ta pauvreté même
      Avec toi, pour toujours,
      je veux tout partager!
      Mon cœur ne peut changer!
      Dans ta pauvre maison
      je suis prête à te suivre!
      A ton foyer désert je suis prête à m'asseoir.
      Cet humble sort m'enchante
      et ce rêve m'enivre!
      Qui croit tenter mon âme emporta un fol espoir!...
      Mon cœur ne peut changer!
      Vincent, ô mon Vincent,
      souviens-toi que je t'aime!
      Ta triste solitude et ta pauvreté même,
      Avec toi, pour toujours,
      je veux tout partager!
      Mon cœur ne peut changer!
      Non, non. Jamais, Vincent, jamais, Ah!

      A toi mon âme,
      Je suis ta femme.
      Malgré leur blâme,
      Je t'appartiens.
      Fière et ravie,
      En cette vie,
      Mon cœur n'envie
      De plus doux biens.
      Que Dieu m'entende;
      Ma joie est grandie,
      Si dans la lande
      Je suis tes pas,
      Et si nom rêne
      Sur l'humble grève,
      Un jour s'achève
      Entre tes bras,
      A toi mon âme,
      Je suis ta femme;
      Malgré leur blâme.
      Je suis ta femme (bis)
      Je t'appartiens, ô mon Vincent!
      À toi mon âme!
      Je suis ta femme!
      Je t'appartiens!
      Pour jamais, je t'appartiens!
      MIREILLE
      To betray Vincent would be madness indeed!
      When happiness goes by, it flies off if you do not catch
      it!
      My heart cannot change!
      Remember I love you!
      Vincent, O my Vincent, why should we be sad?
      Your dreary lonesomeness, your poverty even,
      I want to share everything with you for ever!

      My heart cannot change!
      I am ready to follow you to your your home!
      I am ready to sit by your empty hearth.
      This humble fate delights me and this dream inebriates me!
      Whoever seeks to tempt my soul is moved by a mad
      hope!
      My heart cannot change!
      Vincent, O my Vincent, remember I love you!
      Your dreary lonesomeness, your poverty even,
      I want to share everything with you for ever!
      My heart cannot change!
      No, never, never! Ah!

      My soul is yours,
      I am your wife.
      Although they chide me
      I belong to you.
      Proud and delighted
      In this life
      My heart does not covet
      Sweeter possessions.
      May God hear me,
      I am happy indeed
      If I can but follow you
      Over the heath
      And if my dream
      On the humble beach
      Should one day end
      Between your arms.
      My soul is yours, etc.
      I belong to you, O my Vincent!
      I belong to you for ever!

      Helas!, Taven was right. Ourrias approaches Mireille and informs her, in some couplets (“Si les filles d’Arlès”), that he will take care of her, that she will be her Queen, once they are married:

      There are also several performances available:



      Michel Dens




      André Pernet




      Marcel Vanaud




      Si les filles d'Arles sont reines
      Quand le plaisir
      les rassemble aux arènes

      Si les filles d'Arles sont reines,
      Les bouviers aussi, je crois,
      Dans la lande en feu sont rois!
      Oui là-bas ils sont rois!
      Et s'ils veulent prendre femme...
      La plus fière,
      au fond de l'âme...
      Se soumet à leur choix!...
      Mais fier à son tour de son doux servage,
      Et quittant pour toit son désert sauvage,
      Devant tous, ô belle! Ourrias vainqueur
      Se courbe à tes pieds
      pour gagner ton coeur.
      Ourrias, bouvier de Camargue,
      N'est point de ceux
      qu'on dédaigne et qu'on nargue
      Ourrias, bouvier de Camargue,
      Son trident de fer en main,
      Peut braver le genre humain,
      Et suit droit son chemin!
      Le dompteur que rien ne dompte,
      Pour parler à qui l'affronte
      N'attend pas à demain!...
      Mais fier à son tour de son doux servage,
      Et quittant pour toi son désert sauvage,
      Devant tous, ô belle! Ourrias vainqueur
      Se courbe à tes pieds
      pour gagner ton coeur!
      If the girls of Arles are queens
      When pleasure calls them to the amphitheatre,
      If the girls of Arles are queens,
      I do believe that the cowherds also
      Are kings of the fiery heath!
      Yes, over there, they are kings!
      And should they decide to wed,
      The proudest girl at the bottom of her heart
      Submits to their choice!
      But proud in his turn of his sweet bondage,
      Deserting for your sake his wild waste,
      In front of everyone, O fair girl, the victorious Ourrias
      Throws himself at your feet to win your heart!!
      Ourrias, the cowherd from Camargue,
      Is not a man to be despised and laughed at!
      Ourrias, the cowherd from Camargue,
      With his iron trident in his hand,
      Can defy the human race!
      The tamer whom nothing can tame
      Does not wait till the morrow
      To confront whoever insults him!
      But proud in his turn etc.

      Ourrias being a pest with his unrequested passion, Mireille goes away from him. Then Ramon, Mireille's father, appears, and Ourrias complains to him that Mireille has been rather cold. Then is the turn of Ambroise to enter the scene, with his children Vincent and Vincennette. He asks Ramon for advice: Vincent is in love with a rich heiress, what can he do?. Ramon says that, if the young man can't be talked into reason, then some caning will do the trick. Some people exiting the Amphitheater hear the outburst and can't believe Ramon is really missing the times when being a father meant a right on the life and death of sons.


      Un père parle en père. Gabriel Bacquier.





      Un père parle en père,
      un homme agit en homme!
      Le chef de famille autrefois
      était le maître
      et tout se courbait à sa voix!...
      Et quand Noël voyait devant la table sainte
      S'asseoir l'aïeul, avec sa génération,
      Le doux vieillard calmait toute rébellion
      Et faisait taire toute plainte,
      En versant sur ses fils sa bénédiction!...
      Mais que l'un deux osât braver sa loi suprême,
      Dieu juste!... il l'eût tué peut-être!
      A father speaks as a father should, a man acts as a
      man should!
      In the old days, the head of the family
      Was the master and everything gave way at his voice!
      And when at Christmas, around the holy table
      The patriarch sat with his generation,
      The good old man quenched all rebellions
      And put an end to all complaints,
      As the extended his blessing to his sons!
      But should any of them dare defy his supreme law,
      God of justice!… he might have killed him!


      "Kill me, then!", shouts Mireille, arriving to the group, "Vicent is in love with me". Now is Ramon's turn to be stunned. Furious, he curses Mireille and threaten Ambroise with a beating. Vincennette puts herself before the cane of Ramon, and he leaves, swearing that Mireille will never marry Vincent. The young man is desperate but Mireille firmly confirms she will never be separated from him, and gives Vincent an appointment for the next day, at the Chapel, while the people disperse, criticizing Ramon's reactionary views.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      8.- Composing Mireille

      Gounod was sharing his work in the score of Mireille with Camille Saint-Saëns, and once the piece was finished, he show it to Saint-Saëns himself, Bizet and the Viscountess of Grandval. They were certain the opera will be a success, but acording to Saint-Saëns: "there was a worm inside that fruit". The worm had a name, and even a surname: Marie Caroline Miolan-Carvalho. She was a soprano and also the wife of Mr. Leon Carvalho, at that time the manager of the Théâtre Lyrique, and he was adamant Ms. Miolan-Carvalho will get the role of Mireille.

      This was anathema to Saint-Saëns. True, Ms. Miolan-Carvalho was widening her range, and was replacing roles like Fanchonette (a ligh soprano in an opéra comique by Clapisson), for roles like Faust's Marguerite, but she will never be able to sing a Valentine, from Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots. In other words, she will never be a dramatic soprano.

      "When I heard for the first time the scene in the desert of La Crau, I was scared about the vocality required", wrote Saint-Saëns. "I told Gounod that Ms. Carvalho will never be able to sing the scene. Gounod's curtly reply was that she would, but I was right and she said it was not possible for her. Both artists being rather stubborn they fighted, and Gounod was accused of writing shouts instead of musical notes. Finally, the situation was solved, but the composer needed to cut heavily the scene, and the role was diminished...".



      The "wicked" Miolan-Carvalho, as Mireille

      Another story on the difficult relationship between Gounod and the diva. The composer was at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence working in the score, when Ms. Miolan-Carvalho informed him that she will be stopping at Tarascon's station, on her way to Marseille, and that this was a good opportunity to share some news on the opera. Soon it was apparent that the singer was only interested in her role, and the brevity of the stop at Tarascon didn't allow for lenghty exchanges anyway. When the train was leaving, Ms. Miolan-Carvalho shouted to Gounod: "Darling, please, brilliance, we need brilliance". Gounod was not impressed and he wrote for the tyrannical performer the sweet cantilena 'Hereux petit berger', not the most *brilliant* of pieces. One year later, when the opera was staged, there were further fights about this.

      "Heureux petit berger". Andrea Guiot





      "Heureux petit berger". Leila Ben Sédira




      Heureux petit berger,
      Ah ! que ton sort me fait envie!
      Toujours libre, le coeur léger,
      Les peines de la vie
      Ne peuvent t'affliger,
      Heureux petit berger!
      Dans ce désert de feu
      Tout seul avec tes chèvres,
      Tu dors sous le ciel bleu,
      Une chanson aux lèvres.
      Et pendant ton sommeil
      Les joyeuses cigales
      Font tinter au soleil
      Leurs bruyantes cymbales!...
      Heureux petit berger,
      Ton sort me fait envie!
      Toujours libre, le coeur léger,
      Les soucis de la vie
      Ne peuvent t'affliger,
      Heureux petit berger!
      Happy little shepherd,
      Ah! how I envy your fate!
      Always free, with a light heart,
      The cares of life
      Cannot be a burden to you,
      Happy little shepherd!
      In this fiery desert,
      All alone with your goats,
      You sleep under the blue sky
      With a song on your lips.
      And while you are slumbering
      The merry cicadas
      Bang together under the sun
      Their noisy cymbals!
      Happy little shepherd, etc.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      9.-Third Act

      First Scene

      Hell's Valley. In the evening.

      Ourrias and his friends are crossing this rugged landscaped, supposedly inhabited by evil spirits. The rancher plans to reach Taven's cave, and asks from the witch a love potion. He was adviced to forget Mireille, but... easier said than done. Night is falling, and Ourrias tells his friends to go on without him, as he is feeling depressed about Mireille's turning down his marriage proposition, and he is determined to take vengeance on Vincent.

      There are no videos from our familiar Paris's performance, so we will watch a Canadian production, from 1955:





      OURRIAS
      Voici le Val d'Enfer et la grotte du fées,
      D'où sortent à minuit les plaintes étouffées,
      Les rires et les cris des noirs esprits d'en bas,
      Dont Taven la sorcière excite les ébats.

      LE CHOEUR
      C'est ici qu'elle habite?

      OURRIAS
      Oui, dans ce lieu sauvage.

      (D'un ton railleur)

      Si vous voulez, amis, on peut la consulter;
      Elle cache en lien sûr, dit-on, certain breuvage
      Dont les amants malheureux font usage
      Et qu'il serait prudent peut-être d'acheter.

      LE CHŒUR
      A quoi bon te mettre en dépense?
      Si l'on fait fi de toi, le plus sage, je pense,
      Est de t'en consoler.

      DEMI-CHŒUR
      D'oublier l'aventure et de n'en plus parler.

      LE CHŒUR
      Tu trouveras sans peine une fille plus belle.

      DEMI-CHŒUR
      Et plus riche!

      DEMI-CHŒUR
      Et plus sage!

      OURRIAS
      (avec emportement)
      Où donc se cache-t-elle,
      Cette fille plus belle et plus sage à vos yeux
      Que Mireille elle-même?
      Moi, je n'en veux pas d'autre et c'est elle que j'aime!

      (S'écartant brusquement de ses compagnons)

      Mais la nuit vient. Suivons chacun, notre chemin.

      LE CHŒUR
      (avec crainte et à demi voix)
      Car c'est l'heure des mauvais rêves!
      L'heure où les farfadets, les lutins et les Trèves
      Sur la pointe des flots, le sable des grèves
      Dansent au clair de lune se donnant la main!

      OURRIAS
      Évitez leur rencontre. À demain!

      LE CHŒUR
      A demain!

      (Ils se séparent. Ourrias reste seul accoudé contre
      un rocher.)

      OURRIAS
      Ils s'éloignent!
      Et moi, le coeur gonflé de rage,
      J'attends ici mon rival au passage.
      On t'aime; heureux vannier!
      On t'aime, misérable Vincent!
      Sur mon âme et ma vie,
      Tu paieras de ton sang
      Ce bonheur que, j'envie.

      Tu veux donc que ma main te ploie
      Et te brise comme un roseau,
      Et te jette comme une proie
      Aux loups affamés de la Crau!
      N'affronte pas ma rage!
      Va, va, je te déteste je te hais!
      Votre amour m'irrite et m'outrage!
      Elle t'aime, et moi je l'aimais!
      Mort et malheur! C'est lui!
      Je ne me trompais pas!
      OURRIAS
      Here is the Val d’Enfer and the fairies’ cave
      Whence at midnight proceed the stifled moans,
      The laughter and screeches of the black spirits from
      down below.
      Who the witch Taven excites in their frenzy.

      CHORUS
      Is this where she lives?

      OURRIAS
      Yes, in this wild spot.
      If you wish, friends, we can seek her advice;
      They say she hides in a safe place a potion
      Which unlucky lovers can use
      And it might be wise to buy some.

      CHORUS
      Why should you spend needlessly?
      If you are not loved, the wisest thing,
      I think, is to make the best of it.

      OTHERS
      To forget the whole thing and never mention it again.

      CHORUS
      You will easily find a prettier girl.

      OTHERS
      And a wealthier one too!

      CHORUS
      And a more virtuous one!

      OURRIAS
      Where does she hide then
      The girl who in your eyes is prettier and more virtuous
      Than Mireille herself?
      Which of you knows her? Who has seen her? Where?
      I want none other and she is the one I love!
      But night is falling. Let each one go his way.

      CHORUS
      This is the time for nightmares!
      The time when elves, sprites and ghosts
      On the edge of the waves and the sand of the beaches
      Dance by moonlight, holding each other’s hand!

      OURRIAS
      Try not to meet them. See you tomorrow!

      CHORUS
      See you tomorrow!


      SCENE TWO

      OURRIAS
      There they go!
      And I, my heart burning with rage,
      I wait here for my rival to go by.
      You are beloved, happy weaver!
      You are beloved, wretched Vincent!
      Upon my soul and my life,
      You shall pay with your blood
      The happiness I crave.
      Do you think my hand cannot bend you
      And break you like a reed,
      And throw you as a prey
      To the hungry wolves of the Crau!
      Do not stand in the way of my rage!
      Go, go, I detest you, I hate you!
      Your love angers and outrages me!
      She loves you and I loved her!
      Death and woe! Here he is! I was not mistaken!


      When Ourrias is alone, Vincent appears, also disturbed by the way the situation has evolved. Ourrias accuses him of winning Mireille's love through witchcraft (as is he himself was planning otherwise!...) and challenges Vincent to a fight. The young man accepts the challenge but Ourrias, before Vincent is ready, treacherously knocks him in the temple with a hayfork.

      Let's hear this duet in the voices of Robert Savoie and Léopold Simoneau:



      OURRIAS
      Mort et malheur! C'est lui!
      Je ne me trompais pas!
      Au fond de ce ravin sombre,
      Où la nuit étend son ombre,
      C'est l'enfer qui le jette au-devant de mes pas!

      (S'approchant brusquement de Vincent)

      Te voilà donc, heureux garçon qu'on'aime,
      Galant vannier que l'on préfère à tous,
      Et que Mireille même
      A choisi pour époux!

      VINCENT
      A mon bonheur, ami, ne porte pas envie!
      C'est en vain que son coeur m'a choisi; c'est en vain
      Qu'elle m'aime!- Son père a repoussé ma main
      Et brisé d'un seul mot le rêve de ma vie!

      OURRIAS
      Qu'importent les refus du père et son mépris,
      Si c'est toi dont le coeur de la belle est épris!

      (Avec une rage contenue)

      Mais dis-moi par quel sortilège,
      Par quel charale maudit tu l'as prise à ton piège;
      Parle, réponds! Quel philtre à troublé sa raison?

      VINCENT
      Pourquoi m'outrages-tu par ce lâche soupçon?

      OURRIAS
      Et comment donc se peut-il faire
      Qu'à la face même de Dieu,
      La belle au plus riche préfère..
      Un vagabond sans feu ni lieu ?..
      Il faut bien penser, à ce compte,
      Qu'elle a perdu l'esprit et perdu toute honte!

      VINCENT
      Tais-toi! tais-toi! c'est mal parlé!
      Prends garde d'insulter Mireille!
      La colère enfin se réveille
      Au fond de, mon cœur désolé.
      Aussi vrai que Mireille m'aime,
      Moi, le vannier, moi, Vincent,
      Je vais tout à l'heure, ici même...

      OURRIAS
      (le repoussant avec colère)
      A ma rage un démon te livre,
      J'aurai ton sang, ah! défends-toi!
      L'un de nous doit cesser de vivre
      Je ne suis plus maître de moi !...

      VINCENT
      Par l'enfer, la rage m'enivre,
      Crains, Ourrias, prends garde à toi!
      L'un de nous doit cesser de vivre
      Je ne suis plus maître de moi!

      OURRIAS
      Va-t'en! va-t'en! Malheur à toi!

      (Il frappe rincent de son bâton ferré. Vincent pousse
      un cri et tombe.)

      Ah! qu'ai-je fait? Fuyons

      (Il disparaît parmi les rochers)
      OURRIAS
      Death and woe! Here he is! I was not mistaken!
      At the bottom of this dark vale
      Over which night spreads its shadow,
      Hell itself has thrown him in my path!
      Here you are then, lucky and beloved lad,
      Handsome weaver preferred to all others
      And whom Mireille herself
      Has chosen for her husband!

      VINCENT
      Do not envy me my happiness, friend!
      Her heart has chosen me in vain; in vain
      Does she love me! Her father has refused my hand
      And destroyed with one word the dream of my life!

      OURRIAS
      Who cares about a father’s refusal and contempt,
      If the fair one’s heart is in love with you!
      But tell me with what spell,
      What damned witchcraft you caught her in your trap;
      Speak, answer me! What love-potion made her mad?

      VINCENT
      Why should you insult me with this base suspicion?

      OURRIAS
      And how else couid it be
      That in front of God himself
      The fair one should prefer to the richest man
      A homeless and penniless vagrant?
      Doesn’t it seem to indicate
      That she is lost to reason and to shame?

      VINCENT
      Enough! Silence! You speak ill!
      Beware if you insult Mireille!
      Anger has woken up at last
      At the bottom of my hopeless heart.
      By the love Mireille bears me,
      Me, the weaver, me, Vincent,
      I swear that I shall here and now
      Drown your contempt in your own blood!

      OURRIAS
      Some devil has given you up to my rage,
      I shall have your blood, ah, defend yourself!
      One of us must cease to live,
      I can no longer contain!

      VINCENT
      By hell, rage maddens me,
      Beware, Ourrias, look to yourself!
      One of us must cease to live,
      I can no longer contain myself!

      OURRIAS
      Go away! Go away! Woe betide you!
      Ah! What have I done? I must flee.

      Ourrias thinks Vincent's dead, and flees in haste. But Vincent is still alive, and his plaintive groans are heard by Taven, that exits from her cave and see Vincent lying and Ourrias going away, and she curses the rancher three times.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Second scene

      The Bridge of Trinquetaille, at the banks of the Rhône. Midnight.

      The Moon lights the waters. Ourrias, fill with remorse, arrives to the Ford of Trinquetaille. He calls the Ferryman to cross the river. Then, suddenly, from the depths white-robed ghosts and specters appear. They are damned souls and the spirits of young girls dead for love. A distant bell tolls midnight. The ghosts float on the waters, and dissapear on the mist.

      When the Ferryman arrives, Ourrias, impatient, jumps onboard. But the river is getting rough, and there is a violent swell. Ourrias realizes that the pale face and black cloak of the boatman is not portending anything good. 'You are damned', he informs Ourrias, that falls to the river, and dies by drowning. Then a preternatural calm returns, and we can hear again the ghost chorus that, indifferent, is singing again: “Il est minuit. Un feu qui luit…!”. This sad and quiet moment contrasts with the preceding brutality, and is producing a beautiful, poetic effect

      Let's hear the scene:


      http://www.divshare.com/flash/playli...d=15105907-bcf

      OURRIAS
      (seul, entrant précipitamment, pâle, effaré et
      les cheveux en désordre)
      Ah! qu'ai-je fait?
      La main de Dieu courbe mon front coupable!
      De mon forfait
      Le souvenir me poursuit et m'accable!
      Le remords pour jamais est entré dans mon coeur...
      J'ai peur!
      Le sang versé
      Souille mes, mains d'un signe ineffaçable!
      Pâle et glacé,
      Vincent, là-bas est couché sur le sable!
      Le remords pour jamais est entré dans mon coeur...
      J'ai peur!

      (Tombant à genoux)

      Grâce! Faites-moi grâce, archanges menaçants!
      Détournez de moi votre glaive. Ah!

      (Après un silence.)

      Mais quel vain rêve
      Trouble mes sens?

      (Il regarde autour de lui)

      La nuit est calme et claire,
      La plage est solitaire...

      (Il se relève)

      Hâtons-nous de gagner l'autre côté de l'eau!
      Holà! passeur, amène ton bateau!

      (Son appel, répété par un écho lointain, se perd dans
      le silence de la nuit. On entend un long soupir traverser
      l'espace)

      Dieu! quels accents funèbres
      S'exhalent dans les airs!
      Quels fantômes errants passent sous les flots clairs,
      Ou se dressent dans les ténèbres?...

      (Des lueurs livides glissent sur les eaux. De blancs
      fantômes semblent sortir des profondeurs du fleuve.
      Une cloche lointaine sonne minuit)

      CHŒUR DES TRÈVES
      Voici minuit!
      Un feu qui luit
      Traverse l'ombre!
      Les trépassés
      Sortent glacés
      Du gouffre sombre!
      Le ciel est bleu!
      L'air nous enivre!
      Béni soit Dieu
      Qui nous délivre!

      LES FILLES MORTES D'AMOUR
      Nous sommes les folles d'amour!
      Les pauvres filles délaissées,
      Que la mort, sans retour,
      Au vieux Rhône a fiancées

      VOIX DIVERSES
      Ô nuit! ciel étoilé! doux parfums de la terre!
      Ô mort! cruel exil! lamentable mystère!

      OURRIAS
      (avec terreur)
      Je me souviens!... C'est à minuit
      Que les Trêves sans bruit
      Sortent du goure sombre!
      Je les vois.... je les vois glisser sur le flot bleu
      Et se dresser dans l'ombre
      Les bras tendus vers Dieu!

      (Les voix se taisent. La funèbre procession disparaît
      dans la brume)

      OURRIAS
      (se redressant)
      À moi, passeur!... à moi, batelier de l'enfer!

      UNE VOIX
      (Le Passeur)
      Qui m'appelle?

      OURRIAS
      (agitant son épieu d'un air de menace)
      Ourrias, batelier de l'enfer!...

      (Un bateau semble sortir soudainement du fond de
      l'abîme. Un batelier, au visage pâle, enveloppé dans
      une longue cape noire, de tient debout à l'avant du
      bateau.)

      LE PASSEUR
      Me voici... hâtons-nous.

      OURRIAS
      Tu t'es fait bien attendre,
      Passeur!... une autre fois tâche de mieux entendre.

      (Il saute dans la barque)

      Et maintenant, au large...

      (Le passeur plonge sa gaffe dans l'eau pour faire
      marcher le bateau)

      Saints du ciel!
      L'eau se gonfle et mugit... et ton bateau s'arrête!
      Traître! tu répondras de mes jours sur ta tête
      Et sur ton salut éternel!...

      LE PASSEUR
      Ourrias, ta colère est vaine!
      Mon bateau porte un poids maudit!
      Songe à Vincent... frappé par toi!

      OURRIAS
      Qui l'a dit?

      LE PASSEUR
      Le Dieu vengeur
      Dont la main nous entraîne.

      (Le bateau fait naufrage)

      CHŒUR
      Il est minuit!
      Un feu qui luit
      Traverse l'ombre, etc.
      OURRIAS
      Ah! What have I done!
      God’s hand bends my guilty brow!
      The memory of my crime
      Pursues and distresses me!
      Remorse has entered my heart for ever!
      I am afraid!
      The blood I shed
      Soils my hands with an indelible spot!
      Pale and icy cold,
      Vincent lies on the sand, over there!
      Remorse has entered my heart for ever!
      I am afraid!
      Mercy! Have mercy on me, threatening archangels!
      Turn your swords away from me. Ah!
      But what empty dream
      Dims my senses?
      The night is peaceful and clear;
      The beach is deserted…
      Let us hurry to the other side of the river!
      Hey there! ferryman, bring your boat over!
      God! What deathly sounds
      Are exhaled in the air!
      What wandering ghosts paw beneath the clear waves,
      Or rise up in the darkness?


      SCENE TWO

      SPIRITS
      It is midnight!
      A glowing flame
      Crosses the darkness!
      The deadmen
      Rise up, icy cold,
      From the dark chasm!
      The sky is blue!
      The air inebriates us!
      Blessed be God
      Who has delivered us!

      MAIDENS WHO DIED FOR LOVE
      We are love-crazed creatures!
      Poor forsaken girls
      Which inescapable death
      Has betrothed to the old river!

      VARIOUS VOICES
      O night! Starry sky! Sweet fragrances of the earth!
      O death! Cruel exile! Wretched mystery!

      OURRIAS
      I remember! ’Tis at midnight
      That the spirits noiselessly
      Creep from the dark chasm
      I can see them… I see them glide under the blue
      waves
      And rise up in the darkness,
      Holding their arms out to God!
      Here, ferryman! Here, hell’s own boatman!

      A VOICE
      Who calls me?

      OURRIAS
      Ourrias, hell’s own boatman!

      FERRYMAN
      Here I am… let us hurry!

      OURRIAS
      You kept me waiting long enough,
      Ferryman! Another time, keep your ears open.
      And now, off we go!
      Holy Saints in heaven!
      The water swells and roars… and your boat stops!
      Treacherous wretch! You shall answer for my life
      With your head and your eternal salvation!

      FERRYMAN
      Ourrias, your anger is useless!
      My boat carries an accursed load!
      Think of Vincent… whom you struck down!

      OURRIAS
      Who told you?

      FERRYMAN
      The God of revenge in whose hand we are!

      CHORUS
      It is midnight!
      A glowing flame, etc.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      10.- The Premiere

      We are in 1864, with the Second Empire in place since more than twelve years ago, and France dedicated to pleasure. Paris is attracting visitors from everywhere, and being happy is life's sole objective. For Parisians themselves this was the year of "La belle Hélène", Variety shows, strolling the Boulevards, a kind of everlasting Carnival... Everything and everyone were made fun of. L'Opéra and L'Opéra-Comique were producing Victor Massé's "La Fée Carabosse" and Louis Clapisson's "Les Trois Nicolas"... Nothing familiar to the Opera fan today, but great successes at the time.

      Gounod was not a new kid in the block for the Parisian's audience. Just five years before, "Faust" was reasonably succesful, though “Le médicin malgré lui” and “Philémon et Baucis” were indifferently received. Also, before the premiere of "Mireille", a great banquet at la Maison Dorée was given in the honor of poet Frédéric Mistral.

      Then, March 19th, 1864, was marked in red for many fashionable Parisians, that were to the Théâtre Lyrique eager to hear "Mireille", that was to be performed by:

      Mireille (Soprano):
      Vincent, her lover (Tenor):
      Ourrias, rancher (Baritone):
      Ramón, Mireille's father (Bass):
      Taven, witch (Mezzo):
      Andrelous, a shepherd (Mezzo):
      Vincenette, Vincent's sister (Soprano):
      Ambroise, Vincent's father (Bass):
      The Ferryman (Bass):
      Clémence, Mireille's friend (Soprano):
      Marie Caroline Miolan-Carvalho
      François Morini
      Jean-Vital Ismaël
      M. Petit
      Mme. Faure-Lefèbre
      Mme. Faure-Lefèbre
      Madmoiselle Reboux
      Emile Wartel
      Emile Wartel
      Madmoiselle Albrecht

      According to Saint-Saëns: "The work was presented in a much weakened way. When Ms. Miolan-Carvalho was preparing to sing the scene of La Crau, even with all the cuts, she panicked and offered a terrible perfomance. Before that, the scene of the Rhône's ghosts was also staged very badly, the house was simply not prepared to offer some good special effects: the souls of the dead were doing some nasty, comical noises. In few words: a disaster".

      The Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, also present at the premiere, confimed Saint-Saëns's impressions in a letter addressed to her friend, Pauline Viardot, where he ridiculed mainly the Third Act.


      This is a duet for Mireille and Vincenette “Et bien! C'est aujourd'hui que l'église des Saintes” (Fourth Act), with Carla Rutili, and I think is Janine Gras as Vincennette:.




      MIREILLE
      (avec une exaltation croissante)
      Eh bien, c'est aujourd'hui que l'église des Saintes
      Ouvre sa porte aux malheureux!
      Dieu même dans le ciel accueillera leurs plaintes,
      Et les anges prieront pour eux!
      Femmes, vieillards, enfants du pays de Provence,
      Les pieds nus et les yeux en pleurs,
      Iront porter là-bas leur humble redevance
      D'épis mûrs, de fruits et de fleurs!
      Moi, je veux, cette fois, arriver la première
      Devant le porche du saint lieu;
      Et, dans l'ombre, à genoux, et, le front sur la pierre,
      Pour mon Vincent implorer Dieu!

      VINCENETTE
      Ah! chère soeur! chère Mireille!
      C'est le ciel qui t'inspire et que Dieu te conseille!
      Moi, j'attends là-bas que ton père s'éveille.

      MIREILLE
      Colliers et bracelets, anneaux d'argent et d'or,
      Rameaux de buis bénit, saintes palmes fleuries,
      Tous mes pauvres bijoux, tout mon petit trésor
      J'en fais don aux Saintes Maries!

      (S'agenouillant.)

      Ô patronnes des amoureux!

      VINCENETTE
      (les mains jointes et les yeux au ciel)
      Ô refuges des malheureux!

      MIREILLE
      Saintes martyres!

      VINCENETTE
      Saintes femmes!

      MIREILLE
      Dont le regard lit dans nos âmes!

      VINCENETTE
      Dont la main peut sécher nos pleurs!...

      MIREILLE
      Et guérir toutes nos douleurs!

      VINCENETTE
      Ainsi qu'à Dieu même,
      A vous j'ai recours!

      MIREILLE
      Protégez les jours de celui que j'aime!

      (Se relevant)

      Il est temps de partir!... allons, n'hésitons pas!
      Qu'un bon ange guide nos pas!

      (Se tournant vers la chambre de son père)

      Dieu me pardonnera...
      Pardonnez-moi, mon père!
      Adieu!... j'aime!... je crois!... j'espère!

      (Elles sortent.)
      MIREILLE
      Well, it is today that the church at the Saintes
      Opens its doors to the unfortunate!
      God himself, in his heaven, will receive their complaints
      And his angels will pray for them!
      Women, old folk, children of the land of Provence,
      With bare feet and eyes full of tears,
      Will go and carry there their humble offering
      Of ripe ears of corn, fruit and flowers!
      This time I want to be the first
      To reach the doors of the holy place;
      And in the darkness, on my knees,
      With my brow on the stone-floor,
      I will implore God for my Vincent!

      VINCENETTE
      Ah, dear sister! Dear Mireille!
      Heaven has inspired you and may God advise you!
      I shall wait over there for you father's awakening.

      MIREILLE
      Necklaces and bracelets, rings of silver and gold,
      Blessed palms from the procession,
      All my poor jewels, all my little treasure
      I give them all to the Holy Maries!
      O patron saints of lovers!

      VINCENETTE
      O refuge of unhappy people!

      MIREILLE
      Holy martyrs!

      VINCENETTE
      Holy women!

      MIREILLE
      Whose eyes can read in our souls!

      VINCENETTE
      Whose hand can dry our tears!

      MIREILLE
      And comfort all our sorrows!

      VINCENETTE
      I beseech you
      As I would God!

      MIREILLE
      Protect the life
      Of the one I love!
      It is time to go! Come, I must not waver.
      May some good angel guide our footsteps!
      God will forgive me… Forgive me, Father!
      Farewell!… I love!… I believe!… I hope!


      Five acts to stage the love affair between a girl from Provence, and a humble artisan!. Quel dommage!. The rival (a rancher, to start with!) dies... drowned. The heroine dies of... a sunstroke!. On top of that, there is not a proper aria to let the soprano show off her skills, and the music was evocative of... the Provence!. My God, this is Paris!. What an unfortunate and tasteless show!.

      Gounod was even accused of... Wagnerianism!. . A kind of standard disqualification in France and Italy for any composer failing to please the audience. Wagner was by then the author of "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin" (in one more year, he will premiere "Tristan and Isolde"), but it's difficult to trace his influence in a work like "Mireille". Well, Gounod was not alone, other composers like Smetana, Boito or Leoncavallo shared this strange Wagnerianism tag.

      For the Parisian audience, the music of "Mireille" was something new: it was not the Grand Opéra of Halévy or Meyerbeer (dead this same year of 1864), nor the Opéra comique of Clapisson or Massé. Then, what was "Mireille"?...
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      11.- Recordings.

      "Mireille" was never as popular as other Gounod's operas, like "Faust" or "Roméo et Juliette", but it was never forgotten, either. Not exactly part of the standard repertoire, there have been several performances over the year, many of them in France, and there are also several recordings of the opera, as well as the best known arias.




      1948
      Mireille: Martha Angelici
      Vincent: Charles Richard
      Ourrias: Michel Dens
      Taven: Suzanne Darbans
      Ramon: Lucien Lovano
      Orchestra and Chorus Radio-Lyrique

      Conductor: Jules Gressier

      Just a small tribute, the end of the opera sung by Martha Angelici and Charles Richard:








      This is a wonderful performance offered in 1954, July, 24th, at Provence's Val d'Enfer and recorded some days later in Aix-en-Provence, for Columbia:

      Mireille: Jeanette Vivalda
      Vincent: Nicolai Gedda
      Ourrias: Michel Dens
      Taven: Christine Gayraud
      Ramon: André Vessières
      Paris Conservatory Orchestra, Aix-en-Provence Festival Chorus

      Conductor: André Cluytens

      This is the First act duet between Mireille and Vincent ("Vincenette a votre âge") sung by Vivalda and Gedda:










      1959
      Mireille: Andrée Esposito
      Vincent: Alain Vanzo
      Ourrias: Gabriel Bacquier
      Taven: Christiane Harbell
      Ramon: Lucien Lovano
      Orchestre de Radio-Lyrique and RFT Chorus.

      Conductor: Jules Gressier

      Andrée Esposito and Alain Vanzo singing Magali's song, from the Second act (the title of the video in youtube is wrong):










      1962
      Mireille: Renée Doria
      Vincent: Michel Sénéchal
      Ourrias: Robert Massard
      Taven: Solange Michel
      Ramon: Adrien Legros
      Paris Symphonic Orchestra and Chorus

      Conductor: Jesus Etcheverry

      Renée Doria singing the valse-ariette, “O légère hirondelle”








      The 1970s
      Opéra de Nancy
      Mireille: Michele Command
      Vincent: Aldo Filistad
      Ourrias: Alain Fondary

      Michelle Command singing “Heureux petit berger”, from the Fourth act:










      1979
      Again we find Alain Vanzo and Gabriel Bacquier, this time with two big stars in the cast:

      Mireille: Mirella Freni
      Vincent: Alain Vanzo
      Ourrias: José van Dam
      Taven: Jane Rhodes
      Ramon: Gabriel Bacquier
      Touluse Capitole Orchestra and Chorus

      Conductor: Michel Plasson

      Freni is performing the very difficult La Crau's aria: "Voici la vaste plaine"










      1981
      Mireille: Valerie Masterson
      Vincent: Luis Lima
      Ourrias: Jean-Philippe Lafont
      Taven: Jane Berbié
      Ramon: Jules Bastin
      Suisse Romande orchestra and Chorus.

      Conductor: Sylvain Cambreling

      Again Magali's song (“La brise est douce et perfumée”), now with Valerie Masterson and Luis Lima:










      1993
      Mireille: Danielle Borst
      Vincent: Christian Papis
      Ourrias: Marcel Vanaud
      Taven: Bernadette Antoine
      Ramon: Jean-Philippe Courtis
      Rencontres Musicales de Lausanne Orchestra.

      Conductor: Cyril Diederich

      Now we hear Taven's aria “Voici la saison mignonne” from the Second act, performed by Bernadette Antoine:










      In DVD format this one is from an abridged version of "Mireille", offered with another abridged version of "Pélleas et Melisande". It's a production of Canadian television, broadcasted in 1955, January, 13th.

      Mireille: Pierrette Alarie
      Vincent: Leopold Simoneau
      Ourrias: Robert Savoie
      Taven: Fernande Chiocchio
      Ramon: Denis Harbour
      Radio Canada orchestra.

      Conductor: Roland Leduc

      A brief fragment from the end of the First act, when the lovers agree to meet at the Church if there is something wrong. Pierrette Alarie and Leopold Simoneau.









      This is a recent DVD, from performances at the Opéra de Paris, in 2009:

      Mireille: Inva Mula
      Vincent: Charles Castronovo
      Ourrias: Franck Ferrari
      Taven: Siyvie Brunet
      Vincennette: Anne Catherin-Gillet
      Opéra de Paris orchestra and Chorus.

      Conductor: Mark Minkowski

      The shepherd's aria from the Fourth act, "Le jour se lève et fait pâlir la sombre nuit..." del Acto IV, performed by Sebastien Droy:










      The most recent one, from Orange, in 2010.

      Mireille: Nathalie Manfrino
      Vincent: Florian Laconi
      Ourrias: Franck Ferrari
      Taven: Marie Ange Todorovich
      Vincennette: Karen Vourc’h
      Chorégies d’Orange.

      Conductor: Alain Altinoglu

      The duet of Mireille and Vincennette in the Fourth act, sung by Nathalie Manfrino y Karen Vourc'h:

    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      12.- A Meccano Opera

      "Mireille is not a Grand-opéra, it's an opéra comique", would argue a Parisian member of the audience, at the beginning of the 20th century. "Let'see: it's being performed at L'Opéra Comique, there are only three acts, spoken dialogues, no ballet... Alors, une opéra comique".

      True, after the first ten performances, and until 1939, everyone will be persuaded Mireille was indeed an opéra comique. However....


      It was premiered at the Théâtre Lyrique, and with five acts. The recitative were accompanied and sung. There was not a single funny fragment in all the score (that was, incidentally, the reason behind not having a ballet). Gounod made a lot of changes to Mireille, except he won't consider also to include a ballet.

      After the dissapointing premiere, Mireille was unable to get a better reception and simply dissapeared from the stage. Gounod was challenged by Mr. and Ms. Carvalho to adapt the piece to the tastes of the audience. Forget about five act, and use only three. Add an aria to showcase the soprano singing ability. And nobody dies!. Mireille will marry Vincent, while they sing a passionate duet, and everyone will be happy.

      This was very hard on Gounod, but finally he gave way and introduced all those changes in Mireille. It was almost a new opera. In December, 1864, this "new" Mireille opened again, but to the same failure than the original. In 1889 some further changes were introduced with Gounod making changes, adding and substracting acts, characters, arias, bars,... a true "Meccano-Opera".
      (cierto que casi siempre contra su voluntad) poniendo y quitando actos, personajes, arias, compases...
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      13.-Fourth act, First scene

      This is St John's night. In the courtyard of Ramon's estate. There are bonfires around all the courtyard, ligthing the scne.


      Ramon and his harvesters are celebrating a good harvest. Mireille, sad, enters home. When everyone leaves, she open the window and remember, in a nostalgic mood, Magali's song, that she was singing with Vincent in the Second act, when happiness seemed to be just there, for her to take.

      Sunrise. A young shepherd is playing a Musette, and then sings a brief song to the rising Sun (This song was originally for Gounod's opera "Ivan the Fourth", that was never completed). "Le jour se lève et fait pâlir la sombre nuit», performed by Yves Coudray



      Le jour se lève
      Et fait pâlir la sombre nuit.
      Au loin, déjà l'ardente grève,
      Que nulle brise ne soulève,
      S'enflamme et luit!
      Et dans les airs l'oiseau s'enfuit.
      Et moi, tout seul avec mes chèvres,
      La soif aux lèvres,
      J'erre au hasard dans le désert brûlant,
      D'un pas tranquille et lent.
      Le lézard gris boit la lumière,
      L'humble grillon, dans la poussière,
      Chante au soleil,
      Et moi couché dans la bruyère,
      Je vais reprendre mon sommeil.
      SHEPHERD
      The day is rising
      And lightens up the darkness of night
      Far away, already, the fiery beach,
      Which no breeze stirs up,
      Blazes and dazzles the eye!
      And the bird flies through the air,
      And I, alone with my goats,
      With parched lips,
      I roam aimlessly in the burning desert,
      With a peaceful and steady tread.
      The grey lizard drinks in the light,
      The humble cricket, in the dust,
      Sings in the sun,
      And I, reclining on the heather,
      Shall soon go back to sleep.


      Mireille compares in the monologue "Hereux petit berger" her life, and all her problems, with the happines and nonchalance of the shepherd. Let's listen again to Leile Ben Sédira:




      Heureux petit berger,
      Ah ! que ton sort me fait envie!
      Toujours libre, le coeur léger,
      Les peines de la vie
      Ne peuvent t'affliger,
      Heureux petit berger!
      Dans ce désert de feu
      Tout seul avec tes chèvres,
      Tu dors sous le ciel bleu,
      Une chanson aux lèvres.
      Et pendant ton sommeil
      Les joyeuses cigales
      Font tinter au soleil
      Leurs bruyantes cymbales!...
      Heureux petit berger,
      Ton sort me fait envie!
      Toujours libre, le coeur léger,
      Les soucis de la vie
      Ne peuvent t'affliger,
      Heureux petit berger!
      MIREILLE
      Happy little shepherd,
      Ah! how I envy your fate!
      Always free, with a light heart,
      The cares of life
      Cannot be a burden to you,
      Happy little shepherd!
      In this fiery desert,
      All alone with your goats,
      You sleep under the blue sky
      With a song on your lips.
      And while you are slumbering
      The merry cicadas
      Bang together under the sun
      Their noisy cymbals!
      Happy little shepherd, etc.

      Enters Vincenette, that has been informed by Taven about the fight and want to inform Mireille. Vincenette is certain than Vincent will heal, but Mireille decides anyway to go to the Church to pray for him, even if she needs to cross La Crau, that dangerous and desertic region besides the Rhône's estuary. Mireille takes with her some jewels as an offering to the Saints, and goes out, forgetting to pick up her hat.

      Maryse Castets and Lydia Mayot (París, 1993)



      MIREILLE
      (avec une exaltation croissante)
      Eh bien, c'est aujourd'hui que l'église des Saintes
      Ouvre sa porte aux malheureux!
      Dieu même dans le ciel accueillera leurs plaintes,
      Et les anges prieront pour eux!
      Femmes, vieillards, enfants du pays de Provence,
      Les pieds nus et les yeux en pleurs,
      Iront porter là-bas leur humble redevance
      D'épis mûrs, de fruits et de fleurs!
      Moi, je veux, cette fois, arriver la première
      Devant le porche du saint lieu;
      Et, dans l'ombre, à genoux, et, le front sur la pierre,
      Pour mon Vincent implorer Dieu!

      VINCENETTE
      Ah! chère soeur! chère Mireille!
      C'est le ciel qui t'inspire et que Dieu te conseille!
      Moi, j'attends là-bas que ton père s'éveille.

      MIREILLE
      Colliers et bracelets, anneaux d'argent et d'or,
      Rameaux de buis bénit, saintes palmes fleuries,
      Tous mes pauvres bijoux, tout mon petit trésor
      J'en fais don aux Saintes Maries!

      (S'agenouillant.)

      Ô patronnes des amoureux!

      VINCENETTE
      (les mains jointes et les yeux au ciel)
      Ô refuges des malheureux!

      MIREILLE
      Saintes martyres!

      VINCENETTE
      Saintes femmes!

      MIREILLE
      Dont le regard lit dans nos âmes!

      VINCENETTE
      Dont la main peut sécher nos pleurs!...

      MIREILLE
      Et guérir toutes nos douleurs!

      VINCENETTE
      Ainsi qu'à Dieu même,
      A vous j'ai recours!

      MIREILLE
      Protégez les jours de celui que j'aime!

      (Se relevant)

      Il est temps de partir!... allons, n'hésitons pas!
      Qu'un bon ange guide nos pas!

      (Se tournant vers la chambre de son père)

      Dieu me pardonnera...
      Pardonnez-moi, mon père!
      Adieu!... j'aime!... je crois!... j'espère!

      (Elles sortent.)
      MIREILLE
      Well, it is today that the church at the Saintes
      Opens its doors to the unfortunate!
      God himself, in his heaven, will receive their complaints
      And his angels will pray for them!
      Women, old folk, children of the land of Provence,
      With bare feet and eyes full of tears,
      Will go and carry there their humble offering
      Of ripe ears of corn, fruit and flowers!
      This time I want to be the first
      To reach the doors of the holy place;
      And in the darkness, on my knees,
      With my brow on the stone-floor,
      I will implore God for my Vincent!

      VINCENETTE
      Ah, dear sister! Dear Mireille!
      Heaven has inspired you and may God advise you!
      I shall wait over there for you father's awakening.

      MIREILLE
      Necklaces and bracelets, rings of silver and gold,
      Blessed palms from the procession,
      All my poor jewels, all my little treasure
      I give them all to the Holy Maries!
      O patron saints of lovers!

      VINCENETTE
      O refuge of unhappy people!

      MIREILLE
      Holy martyrs!

      VINCENETTE
      Holy women!

      MIREILLE
      Whose eyes can read in our souls!

      VINCENETTE
      Whose hand can dry our tears!

      MIREILLE
      And comfort all our sorrows!

      VINCENETTE
      I beseech you
      As I would God!

      MIREILLE
      Protect the life
      Of the one I love!
      It is time to go! Come, I must not waver.
      May some good angel guide our footsteps!
      God will forgive me… Forgive me, Father!
      Farewell!… I love!… I believe!… I hope!
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      14.-Fourth act, Second scene

      La Crau's desert. Noon.


      As we know, La Crau is a big tract of dry and stony land. We are at the end of June, it's noon and the sun is high on the sky. This hot weather finds our heroine, Mireille, disoriented, exhausted and without a hat.

      In this second scene we can hear Mireille's big aria. It starts with a brief introduction lasting nine bars, and it's then followed by a recitative (Voici la vaste plaine et le désert de feu”), and after that a lyrical outburst: “En marche, en marche!”. Its progress is stopped by another recitative representing the very weak state of Mireille under the cruel sun, and the continuation are thirty-seven bars when the heroine, in the middle of an hallucination, thinks she is looking at a miracolous city, either Jerusalem or the Saints's graves. This fragment is developed on a motif played by organ and trumpet that will also be used in the last act, in the magnificent plea "Sainte ivresse, divine extase”.

      The mirage disappears, and Mireille faints. Then we hear the shepherd's Musette, from afar. After the music ends, Mireille awakes and starts to walk again, "En marche, en marche!". We can hear Ermonela Jaho:




      (Le désert de la Crau. Vaste étendue de terrain
      pierreux et aride, éclairé par un soleil ardent. Sur
      le premier plan, quelques arbres tordus par le vent. À
      droite, une vieille citerne en ruine à demi enfouie sous
      les herbes. Le silence n'est interrompu que par le chant
      monotone des cigales ou le cri aigu de quelque oiseau
      de proie traversant l'air. Mireille entre en courant,
      très pâle, les cheveux au vent et le corsage dénoué)

      MIREILLE
      Voici la vaste plaine et le désert de feu.
      Dieu bon, fais que Mireille accomplisse son voeu!
      En marche, ainsi que Maguelonne!
      Les ailes de l'amour et le vent de la foi,
      Sous le ciel ardent qui rayonne
      Jadis l'emportaient comme moi!...
      Ni de la mer l'onde écumante,
      Ni les éclairs, ni la tourmente,
      Ni les traits enflammés du jour,
      N'ont arrêté la pauvre amante,
      La pèlerine d'amour!

      (Elle fait quelques pas.)

      Mais le ciel m'éblouit!... le jour m'aveugle!

      (Elle s'arrête)

      Où suis-je !
      Je me sens prise de vertige !...

      (Tendant les mains vers l'horizon.)

      Et là-bas, ô prodige!
      Dans l'azur transparent des cieux,
      Quel rêve de terre promise
      Tout à coup surgit à mes yeux!

      (On voit au loin se dessiner dans le ciel, par un effet
      de mirage, une ville miraculeuse au bord d'un grand
      lac entouré d'arbres.)

      Est-ce Jérusalem et sa pieuse église,
      Ou le tombeau des Saintes de la mer?

      (L'image disparaît peu à peu et s'efface)

      Mais non!... la vision s'évanouit dans l'air,
      L'image ailée
      S'est envolée!

      (Elle s'élance en avant et s'affaisse tout à coup et
      poussant un cri de douleur et en portant ses main à son
      front.)

      Ah! de sa flèche d'or le soleil m'a blessée!...
      Je meurs!...adieu, Vincent, adieu!...pleur ta fiancée!

      (Mireille tombe à terre évanouie, cependant qu'on
      entend au loin la musette du berger. Sur les dernière
      mesures. Mireille revient à elle.)

      Non, non! Je ne mourrai pas!
      Je ne veux pas mourir! marchons encor
      En marche, ainsi que Maguelonne !
      Les ailes de l'amour et le vent de la foi,
      Sous le ciel ardent qui rayonne
      Jadis l'emportaient comme moi!
      Ni de la mer l'onde écumante,
      Ni les éclairs, ni la tourmente,
      Ni les traits enflammés du jour
      N'arrêteront la pauvre amante,
      La pèlerine de l'amour!
      En marche! ... En marche! ... En marche !...
      Ah!

      (Elle a disparu au loin en chantant la fin de cet air)
      MIREILLE
      Here are the wide plain and the fiery desert,
      Merciful God, let Mireille fulfil her pledge?
      On I go, as Maguelonne did!
      The wings of love and the breeze of faith,
      Beneath the burning and dazzling sky,
      Once carried her away as they do me!
      Neither the frothy waves of the sea,
      Nor lightning, nor the tempest,
      Nor the flaming arrows of the sun
      Could stop the wretched lover, love's pilgrim!
      But the sky dazzles me!… Daylight blinds me!
      Where am I?
      I feel dizzy and ready to fall!
      And over there, O prodigy!
      In the transparent azure of the sky,
      What is this dream of a promised land
      That suddenly rises up in front of my eyes!
      Is this Jerusalem and its holy church?
      Or the tomb of the Holy Ladies of the Sea?
      Why, no! The vision vanishes into thin air,
      The winged image
      Has flown away!
      Ah! the sun has wounded me
      With his golden arrow!…
      I am dying! Farewell, Vincent, farewell! Weep for your fiancée!
      No, no! I will not die!
      I do not want to die! Let us walk on!
      On I go, as Maguelonne did, etc.
      On I go! On I go! On I go!
      Ah!
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      15.- Fifth Act

      The old Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer's Chapel. Early evening.

      We can hear a song from the faifthful asking for God's blessings (Choir: "O vous que du haut du ciel”). True to his word, Vincent is there, looking for Mireiile. In his aria “Anges du paradis” he prays for her safe arrival.

      Two performances:


      Alain Vanzo




      Charles Castronovo




      Mon cœur est plein d'un noir souci!
      Qui l'arrête? Pourquoi n'est'elle pas ici?

      Anges du paradis, couvrez-la de votre aile!
      Dans les airs étendez votre manteau sur elle!
      Et toi, brûlant soleil d'été,
      Fais grâce à sa jeunesse, épargne sa beauté!
      Je l'ai vue à travers mon rêve,
      Dans la lande aux souffles de feu,
      Accourant seule vers la grève,
      Pâle et le front courbé, sous l'éclat du ciel bleu,
      Invoquant les Saintes et Dieu!

      Anges du paradis, couvrez-la de votre aile!
      Dans les airs étendez votre manteau sur elle!
      Et toi, brûlant soleil d'été,
      Fais grâce à sa jeunesse, épargne sa beauté!
      VINCENT
      My heart is filled with black forebodings!
      Who detains her? Why is she not here?
      Angels of Paradise, cover her with your wings!
      Up in heaven, spread your cloak above her!
      And you, fiery summer sun,
      Have mercy on her youth, spare her beauty!
      I saw her in my dream
      On the heath where a fiery breath blows,
      Running alone towards the beach,
      Pale, her brow bent under the glare of the blue sky,
      Invoking the Holy Women and God!
      Angels of Paradise, etc.


      Being able to see the Sea in the last video, anyone?. Well, we *are* supposed to see the Sea, like in the below lithograph:


      and, more importantly, Mireille herself *must* see the Sea, as she is singing: “Voyez! Voyez! l'onde étincelle! La mer (the Sea) est calme et le ciel bleu!"


      Well... Finally Mireille arrives to the Chapel, but staggering, delirious. After meeting Vincent, we hear a choir off-stage (“Le voile, enfin s’est déchiré”), that is just a version of the liturgical hymn “Lauda Sion Salvatorem”, with the accompaniment of an organ.

      Mireille is dying. Then, in ecstasy she has a vision of the Doors of Heaven opening to admit her. Ramon and Vincenette, just arrived, run to her side. Taking into account that Vincent was injured, while Ramon and her daughter departed from his estate well after Mireille's herself, it's clear all of them were equipped with much better orientation skills than our poor Mireille.

      Ramon, repentant (but, helas!, such a late repentance), now agrees to the wedding. Mireille sings a moving aria (“Sainte ivresse, divine extase” ), on a motif already used in the desert scene, played by organ and trumpet, and she finally dies from her sunstroke, while a heavenly voice announces her immortal soul is now safely in the bosom of her Creator.




      CHŒUR
      (dans l'église)
      Le voile enfin s'est déchiré!
      Le noir tombeau soudain s'est éclairé!
      Voici le trésor sacré!...
      Gloire aux Saintes Maries!
      Un ange descend du ciel bleu;
      Un doux parfum embaume le saint lieu
      Un cri d'amour monte vers Dieu!
      Gloire aux Saintes Maries!

      MIREILLE
      (avec égarement)
      Écoute! c'est pour nous qu'ils prient!
      Mireille et Vincent se marient!
      Le ciel a béni leurs amours!...

      VINCENT
      Que dit-elle?

      MIREILLE
      Aimons-nous! aimons-nous toujours!...
      Sainte ivresse! divine extase!
      Pur transport dont mon cœur s'embrase!
      Rêve heureux! doux enchantement!
      Le ciel même s'ouvre et s'enflamme!
      Et dans l'air et dans mon âme
      Tout est joie et rayonnement !

      (Mireille retombe épuisée dans les bras de Vincent)

      VINCENT
      Grand Dieu!

      VINCENETTE
      (accourant)
      Mireille!... Accourez!...

      Scène 4

      RAMON
      Mireille!... Mon enfant!

      MIREILLE
      Vous pleurez, vous pleurez!...

      VINCENETTE, VINCENT, RAMON
      Dieu! quelle ardeur étrange
      En ses yeux égarés!

      RAMON
      Ne meurs pas, chère enfant, ne meurs pas!...
      Et pardonne!

      (A Vincent)

      Toi, sauve-la, Vincent!... je te la donne!

      MIREILLE
      Il est trop tard! Voyez, le ciel rayonne,
      Et les Saintes viennent à moi
      Pour me donner la main. Je les vois!...

      VINCENT
      Ah! je veux les suivre avec toi!

      TOUS
      Sainte ivresse! Divine extase!
      Pur transport dont mon cœur s'embrase!
      Rêve heureux, doux enchantement!
      Le ciel même s'ouvre et s'enflamme,
      Et dans l'air et dans mon âme
      Tout est joie et rayonnement !

      (Avant la reprise de l'ensemble, les fidèles sont entrés
      peu à peu et entourent Mireille.)

      MIREILLE
      (extasiée)
      Voyez! Voyez! l'onde étincelle!
      La mer est calme et le ciel bleu!
      Adieu, Vincent! Adieu!

      (Elle meurt)

      VINCENT
      Ô mort! Emporte-moi dans la tombe avec elle!

      UNE VOIX
      (d'en haut)
      O Mireille, suis-nous vers le divin séjour,
      Viens goûter dans les Cieux la douceur infinie,
      Et la grâce ineffable, et l'ivresse bénie
      De l'éternel amour!...

      TOUS
      Son âme a pris son vol vers Dieu!
      Un doux parfum embaume le Saint Lieu!
      CHORUS
      The veil is torn asunder at last!
      The black tomb is suddenly lit up!
      Here is the sacred treasure!
      Glory to the Holy Maries!
      An angel comes down from the blue heaven;
      Sweet fragrance perfumes the holy place:
      A cry of love rises up to God!
      Glory to the Holy Maries!

      MIREILLE
      Listen! They are praying for us!
      Mireille and Vincent are being married!
      Heaven has blessed their love!

      VINCENT
      What is she saying?

      MIREILLE
      We must love each other! Love each other for ever!
      Holy elation! Divine ecstasy!
      My heart is consumed by a pure felicity!
      Blessed dream! Sweet witchcraft!
      Heaven itself opens up and blazes!
      And in the air as in my soul
      There is nought but joy and bliss!

      VINCENT
      God almighty!

      VINCENETTE
      Mireille! Come quickly, all of you!


      SCENE FOUR

      RAMON
      Mireille! My child!

      MIREILLE
      Are you weeping? Are you weeping?

      VINCENETTE, VINCENT, RAMON
      God! What a strange flame
      Burns in her distraught eyes!

      RAMON
      You must not die, darling child, you must not! Forgive
      me !
      You save her, Vincent! She is yours now!

      MIREILLE
      It is too late! See, what a glare in the sky,
      The Holy Women are coming down to me
      To give me their hands. I can see them!

      VINCENT
      Ah! I will follow them with you!

      MIREILLE
      Holy elation! Divine ecstasy! etc.

      EVERYONE
      Holy elation! Divine ecstasy! etc.

      MIREILLE
      See! See! The sea sparkles!
      The waves are calm and the sky is blue!
      Farewell, Vincent! Farewell!

      VINCENT
      O Death! Take me down to the tomb with her!

      A VOICE
      O Mireille, follow us to the divine sojourn,
      Come and enjoy in heaven the infinite sweetness,
      The ineffable grace and the blessed elation
      Of eternal love!

      EVERYONE
      Her soul has taken flight towards God!
      A sweet fragrance perfumes the holy place!


      A last word about this production:






      According to the libretto, Mireille dies HERE:
      MIREILLE
      (extasiée)
      Voyez! Voyez! l'onde étincelle!
      La mer est calme et le ciel bleu!
      Adieu, Vincent! Adieu!

      (Elle meurt)

      VINCENT
      Ô mort! Emporte-moi dans la tombe avec elle!

      (...)

      And, however, she is yet able to rise and coming up an staircase. Perhaps some last minutes graciously given to her by the stage director, or perhaps a visual metaphor of her ascent to Heaven. A little bit melodramatic, anyway, and even worse, unnecessary. The libretto, wisely, is much more sober.

      In any case, who knows?. Perhaps this would have been pleasant to Gounod himself, and at least is not against the spirit of the original poem, by Mistral.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      16.- Changes in the score

      This is the list of the major changes that Gounod made on the original's "Mireille", it's a long one:


      1.- Recitative were replaced by spoken dialogues.


      2.- The fve acts were reduced to three.



      To get this done, the entire first scene of the Fourth act was cut. This also implied:

      2.a) Vincenette and Taven were merged, and only Taven remained, absorbing Vincenette's line at the end of the opera. The phrase of "Mon père!" sung by Vincenette in the Amphitheater's act, was rewritten for a tenor, and sung by Vincent.

      2.b) The aria “Heureux petit berger” is moved to the desert's scene, when Mireille hears for the second time (in the reduced version, indeed the first time) the shepherd's Musette. A few lines of dialogue between Mireille and the shepherd are also added.

      2.c) There is no Saint John's choir, so the last bars of the original overture, that were showcasing a motif from this choir, are also replaced with new music.


      3.- The most famous one, the addition of the valse-ariette “O légère hirondelle”, to the First act.


      4.- In the Second act, in the aria “Trahir Vincent”, Mireille sings: “Trahir Vincent, vraiment ce serait être file! Quand passe le bonheur, s'il n'est pris, il s'envole", with some beautiful notes in «s’envole». Let's hear Michelle Comand:

      Michelle Comand, 1970:



      Gounod wrote in the autograph' score: «Vocalise añadida a petición de Mme. Carvalho».

      Furthermore, Gounod changed the link between the first part of the aria, and the reprise. On the original version, Mireille sings «Mon coeur ne peut changer, non, non, jamais, Vincent, jamais!», ending in E-flat major, that serves as a modulation to start with the allegro "A toi mon âme". In the new version, the orchestra modullates, in three bars. The reason was to let the singer (i.e. Mme Carvalho) rests before "A toi mon âme".

      5.- This was to please another singer, Jean-Vital Ismaël, that premiered the role of Ourrias in 1864. When the new "Mireille" was performed at l'Opéra-Comique, however, he was singing Ramon, Mireille's father. Gounod's adapted the couplets for Ramon, lowering two tones. Yes, it was a little strange that a father will be wooing her daughter, but... even stranger things Gounod was ready to tolerate, in return for a success.

      6.- In the Third act, in the Bridge's scene, after the first call of Ourrias to the ferryman, there are six bars played by the orchestra in glissando (in the audio of the post, between 4:20 and 4:45), ending with an intervention of the choir. However, this was replaced by a chord of 7ths diminished, moving to B major. It's was not a happy rewriting, either from a musical or a dramatic point of view.

      7.- It seems (the original score is lost) that Gounod use a prelude to the desert's scene, with the first 24 bars of the overture. In the new version, Mireille is just inserted in the desert, without any previous musical development.

      But we can hear the prelude in this version, sung by Andréa Guiot:




      8.- The greatest of all changes!. Mireille is not really dead, but she miracurously revives in the last scene. Of course, that means Gounod needed to cut the entire ending, and he just wrote a new one, with a duet: "La foi de son flambeau divin", that we can hear in the voices of Germaine Féraldy y Edmond Rambaud:




      In this new form, Mireille was in the repertoire until around 1901. Albert Carré, then the manager of l'Opéra-Comique, decided to stage the five act version again. It was, finally, another new version, because some changes were introduced, this time not even written by Gounod, and the spoken dialogues were not replaced by the original recitatives. This was the cast:

      Mireille:
      Vincent:
      Ourrias:
      Ramon:
      Taven:
      El pastor:
      Vincenette:
      Ambroise:
      Mme. Rioton
      M. Maréchal
      Dufranne
      Vieuille
      Marie de l'Isle
      Eayreams
      de Craponne
      Jacquin

      The real Gounod's "Mireille" will still take some more years to reappear.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      17.- "Mireille" restored

      Thanks to the effort of the French actor from the 1920s and 1930s, Guy Ferrant, the original "Mireille" was recovered. Ferrant himself documented all his efforts in his book 'La vraie Mireille de Gounod'.

      This is the beginning of the book: << I'm not a musicologist. Why am I then writing those pages?. Because I'm in love with music, with theater, and with Gounod's works. Just by sheer chance, one copy of the first edition fell into my hands, and, given my love for original versions, I knew I had a mission to restore "Mireille" >>

      <<... While snooping in a rather squalid antique shop, I found a dusty copy of "Mireille"'s score. After browsing a few pages, I'm certain, this is real treasure, the first edition of "Mireille", that appeared a few days before the first performance in 1864. I bought the score for a few francs.... >>

      Armed with this edition, Ferrant compared scene by scene and found all the modifications done to the original score. <<This was as exciting as to discover something was hidden under the canvas of your favorite painting!. I just needed to convince the curators of our lyrical museum, Mr. Jacques Rouché and Mr. Henri Busser, of the Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique, about the necessity to present to the audience the true "Mireille".>>

      Ferrant was lucky, as Mr. Busser was a former Gounod's student, and he was very open to his proposal. They contacted the daughter of the composer, the Baroness of Lassus-Saint-Geniés, and hired Reynaldo Hahn to be in charge of the musical aspects and the performances. They went so far as to order new Provençal scenery and wardrobe, and ensured there was a proper Press coverage.

      So, everything was ready to stage the *true* "Mireille"... or wasn't it?. Well, partly. There were some modifications: the overture was played between the first and second acts, Taven was not an old woman, but a gypsy in her forties, the role of the shepherd Andreloun was sung by a tenor, instead of a trouser role...

      This was the cast for the premiere, the 6th of July, 1939:

      Mireille:
      Vincent:
      Ourrias:
      Ramon:
      Taven:
      El pastor:
      Vincenette:
      J. Roland
      Louis Arnoult
      Beckmans
      Etcheverry
      Mme. Sibille
      Derenne
      Mselle. Thélin

      The wonderful La Crau's aria was very well received, and the original ending with the death of Mireille, really moved the audience. It was a great success, and nobody seemed to miss the 'légère hirondelle', the lady disguised as a shepherd, the duet 'La foi de son flambeau divin', or Mireille's miracolous recovery from the sunstroke.

      The same production, also praised by the critics, was performed in Arlés, in 1941. Since then, it's this "Mireille" the standard version for the stage.


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