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Dinorah



Dinorah

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This charming three-act opera was a surprise in 1859 for those critics who thought Meyerbeer capable only of large-scale grand operas. In fact, it became one of his most popular and enduring works. The... read more

BUY TRACKS
Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I: Overture - Salve! Sainte Marie 12:35
playstop02 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène I: Le jour radieux 04:17
playstop03 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène II: Bellah! Ma chèvre cherie! 03:32
playstop04 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène II: Aria: Dors petite, dors tranquille 04:38
playstop05 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène III: Je suis chez moi! Que san Satan les emporte 03:34
playstop06 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène III: Aria: J'en rougirais, eh bien! Apres! 02:39
playstop07 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène III: Qui va la? C'etait le vent! 03:16
playstop08 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène IV: Duet: Sonne, sonne, gai sonneur! 07:23
playstop09 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène V: Hola! He! Vieil Alain! 03:44
playstop10 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène V: O puissante magie! Ivresse de mes sens! 05:56
playstop11 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène VI: Me voici j'ai tardé04:58
playstop12 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène VI: Si tu crois revoir ton père éxpirant ? 04:06
playstop13 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène VI: Duet: Un tresor! 04:24
playstop14 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act I scène VI: Trio: Ce tintement que l'on entend 04:25
playstop15 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène I: Entracte and Chorus: Qu'il est bon, qu'il est bon 04:35
playstop16 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène II: Aria: Dites-moi, dites vite; a-t-on vu Dinorah? 06:01
playstop17 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène III: Aria: Me voici! Me voici! 05:19
playstop18 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène III: Ombre legere qui suit mes pas 07:40
playstop19 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène IV: Arrive! Me voici 02:53
playstop20 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène V: Aria: Ah! Que j'ai froid! 02:37
playstop21 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène VI: C'est toi? Non, je frissonne! 06:18
playstop22 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène VII: Duet: Quand l'heure sonnera 06:50
playstop23 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène VII: Tu fremis? Que m'importe! 02:35
playstop24 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène VIII: Trio: Taisez-vous! 03:21
playstop25 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act II scène VIII: Trio: De l'oiseau dans le bocage 04:40
playstop26 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène I: Aria: En chasse, piqueurs adroits! 04:29
playstop27 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène I: Aria: Les blés son bons a faucher 02:39
playstop28 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène I: Duet: Sous les genévriers 03:19
playstop29 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène I: Quartet: Bonjour, faucheur! 05:07
playstop30 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène II: La force m'abandonne 03:34
playstop31 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène IV: Aria: Ah! Mon remords te venge 04:28
playstop32 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène IV: Duet: Grand Dieu! Son teint s'anime et se 02:08
playstop33 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène IV: Duet: Vois! ? regarde ces lieux! 08:24
playstop34 Dinorah, "Le pardon de Ploermel": Act III scène IV: Sainte Marie! 08:52

This charming three-act opera was a surprise in 1859 for those critics who thought Meyerbeer capable only of large-scale grand operas. In fact, it became one of his most popular and enduring works. The story of the hapless and demented young Dinorah roaming the hills with her goat, Bellah, was a favourite of the diva Adelina Patti.

Booklet includes complete libretto with English translation.

'A fascinating recording' - Peter David, New York Times

'The orchestral playing is of a quality that makes appreciation of Meyerbeer's scoring no problem at all... the music has a genuine lyric charm. More than that, its strands are skilfully interwoven' - Gramophone

Deborah Cook (Dinorah), Christian du Plessis (Hoël), Alexander Oliver (Corentin), Della Jones (Goatherd), Marilyn Hill Smith (Goatgirl), Roderick Earle (Huntsman), Ian Caley (Reaper), Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, James Judd – conductor
ACT I The action of Dinorah takes place in and around the Breton village of Ploërmel. Hoël, a goatherd, and Dinorah, his betrothed, set out for the chapel where they are to be married on the day of the annual pilgrimage in honour of the Virgin, the Pardon of Ploërmel. But before the wedding can take place a violent storm overtakes them and Dinorah’s home is destroyed by lightning. Hoël, anxious to rebuild it, learns of the treasure of the Korigans, a Breton fairy folk, and determines to go in search of it. The Wizard Tonik advises that he must first of all spend a year in solitude. Accordingly he departs but without telling Dinorah who, believing herself deserted, goes mad and wanders through the woods seeking him, accompanied by her pet goat Bellah. An overture introduces a number of musical ideas connected with characters and events in the drama: a passage of vigorously bowed arpeggi associated with Dinorah running after the goat; a bell representing the animal itself; while an off-stage chorus quotes part of the processional sung on the day of the festival of the Pardon (a chorus in an overture was not a novelty, Gluck for example had used one in Iphigénie en Tauride and Rossini in Ermione, but Meyerbeer’s employment of it solely for pictorial effect was wholly original). At the climax the full orchestra creates the storm responsible for Dinorah’s madness and which at the end restores her to sanity. When the curtain rises a year has passed. After a short chorus in which the villagers apostrophise the rustic beauties of the country, we hear the rushing string arpeggi and Dinorah enters looking for her goat. At length she finds it asleep. In a beautiful Berceuse, ‘Dors petite, dors tranquille’, a characteristically Meyerbeerian piece with its short melodic figures, sequence of modulations and delicate orchestration, the composer establishes Dinorah’s fey nature, crying and laughing by turns, as she promises to watch over her pet and protect it from the wolf. Particularly lovely is the orchestral postlude dissolving in a hushed morendo. A short prelude in the style of a hurdy gurdy is an appropriate introduction for Corentin, a bagpiper. He is in a highly nervous state believing stories that goblins and dwarfs haunt the area and quickly goes into the cottage that he has just inherited from his uncle Alain. Taking up his pipes, in a couplet, a strophic air – a feature of the opéra-comique style familiar form the works of Boieldieu and Auber – he tries to cheer himself with the thought that it is not given to everyone to be courageous. It is a picturesque piece, the clarinet doing duty for the bagpipes, and requiring of the singer considerable dexterity in the articulation of the text. Dinorah is attracted by Corentin’s playing and imitating the inflexions of the pipes, vocalises the refrain outside his window. When he stops playing she runs into the cottage and insists that he continue; terrified and convinced that she is a wicked fairy he plays and dances until both, exhausted, fall asleep. This is not a duet in a classical sense, for although the two voices harmonise the vocal line of each remains entirely charateristic. Corentin’s fear is reflected in short, ejaculatory phrases, while Dinorah’s coloratura is not simply decorative but a device indicating her mental instability. Hoël returns after his year’s absence, confident that he has discovered the secret of the Korigan’s treasure. Having learned that the first to touch it will surely die, he has come to take Alain with him as victim; finding Corentin instead he decides that he will do just as well and sends him out to buy some wine to put him in a receptive mood. Left alone in the air ‘O puissante magie’, Hoël exults at the prospect of securing the treasure, of riches unknown, gold, rubies and pearls. It is a dramatic scene reminiscent of that of Nelusko from the Prison Scene of L’Africaine with a similar sequence of sharply delineated sections in contrasting legato, martello and staccato styles. Highly effective is the D major passage ‘Ces trésors, o ma fiancée’, in which Hoël, changing from his angry mood, in a tender legato resolves to throw the entire treasure at the feet of his beloved. Corentin comes back with the wine. In a recitative Hoël recounts the events of the previous year and then tells of the treasure. He proposes to share it with Corentin, who is fascinated but apprehensive. Hoël assures him that there is nothing to be afraid of and that a white goat will lead them safely to the place where it is hidden. In a duet he makes Corentin repeat after him the conjuration which will render all the dark spirits and goblins harmless; ‘Disparaissez, vaines ombres, lutins qui gardez ces lieux!’ The piece is notable for its clever use of syncopation; Hoël pronouncing the incantation on the strong beat of the bar, Corentin repeating it straight after him on the weak beat. Only at the end, when Corentin has committed the words to memory do the two voices synchronise. A burst of laughter interrupts them and Dinorah appears at the cottage window and throws in a bouquet. Corentin is unnerved by Hoël – who quite fails to recognise his fiancée – assures him that it is only a spirit and to disregard her. With the wine to fortify his spirits Corentin resolves to join Hoël and the two shake hands. The sombre atmosphere is dispelled in a lively and spirited duo bouffe. Corentin drinking to give himself courage and Hoël making light of his fears. At length the goat’s bell is heard in the distance, and Hoël declares it is the signal – ‘C’est la chèvre qui doit nous guides’, he cries. The hour has come for them to set out for the Val Maudit (the haunted valley). The act ends with one of the most felicitous passages in the entire score, a trio for Dinorah, Corentin and Hoël, full of delightful effects and showing Meyerbeer’s skill in polyphonic writing. The three are out searching for the goat as night falls and in the distance can be heard the rumblings of thunder. Each character expresses differing emotions; Dinorah anxiously calls out to her pet, Corentin calls on the saints to protect him and Hoël, excited at the prospect of the treasure, cautions Corentin to take care lest he slip in the dark. The curtain falls as we hear the goat’s bell on the high F sharp and at the same moment a ray of moonlight reveals the animal high on the top of a cliff. ACT II The second act opens with a short, delicately scored entracte, full of pastoral charm. When the curtain goes up the peasants sing an unaccompanied chorus of the kind the composer delighted in, full of characteristic devices. The men, in a Brindisi, extol the virtues of ‘le vin du bonhomme Yvon’ and then, humming, provide the harmony as their womenfolk rejoice at the prospect of the festival on the morrow: ‘Demain ca’est le jour du pardon et dig din don, et dig din don’. Meyerbeer as exceptionally fond of onomatopoeia; there are examples of it in all of his operas, and perhaps the most striking in Les Huguenots; Marcel’s emulation of the thundering of the cannon at the Battle of La Rochelle – ‘Piff, pass, pouff!’ A goatherd enters telling the sad story of Dinorah’s lost love, consequent derangement and her wanderings through the countryside and the mountains still clad in her wedding gown, while the chorus join in the lamentation. It is a simple and graceful air and the words have a suitably ingenious rhyming scheme: ‘Bergère timide, pauvre âme candide, prends garde et fuis l’amour perfide!’ The scene shifts to the Val Maudit. We hear again the running figure in the strings and Dinorah enters. She sings a short melancholy romance in a naïve style. Suddenly the sombre darkness of the forest is illuminated by the moon. Catching sight of her shadow Dinorah conceives of it as a companion and in the famous mazurka, ‘Ombre légère’, sings and dances with it; the shadow dance was a familiar feature of the romantic ballet. It is the most celebrated piece in the opera, its elegant melody, elaborate fioritura and echoing cadenzas have made it a favourite of coloratura sopranos. It is a pity, however, that they almost invariably omit the central episode – it is cast in ternary form – for Meyerbeer makes considerable effect with it. A cloud passes over the moon and darkness returns; once again Dinorah sinks into her sad reverie, but the moon quickly reappears and taking up the air, she continues as gaily and blithely as before, bringing the piece to a conclusion in a brilliant cadenza. Hoël and Corentin enter searching for the goat. Corentin by now sober again, is cold, dispirited and exhausted. He insists on taking a rest; Hoël, anxious to get to the treasure as quickly as possible, goes off on his own. In a chanson Corentin does his best to laugh off his depression. Meyerbeer nicely suggests his fearfulness in the repeated passage of falling chromatic staccato triplets. In the darkness he comes upon Dinorah and makes fun of her ramblings, but when she sings the legend of the curse of the treasure, so revealing Hoël’s treachery, Corentin’s worst fears are confirmed. Hoël returns announcing that it is time for one of them to go down into the ravine. Corentin, however, declines to be the one and challenges Hoël with the story of the curse. Hoël tries to dismiss it but as he himself will not go first and, notwithstanding all his threats and blandishments Corentin refuses to budge, both reluctantly bid the treasure ‘Adieu’. Although styled a duo bouffe, there is a considerable element of tension in it. At the end the heated exchange – ‘Passez devant! Je te suivrai! Non, non vraiment! Après vous! Après toi!’ – contrives to be at the same time comic and dramatic. Dinorah reappears and there begins the scene which ends the act. Hoël is still convinced she is a spirit sent to keep him from the treasure. Corentin, rather absurdly, thinks to persuade her to be the first to touch it and offers her pearls and diamonds as many as she wishes. She does not reply but, instead, sings of the birds and the sweet sound of their warblings, ‘Do l’oiseaux dans le bocage’. The two male voices join in; Corentin vaily trying to dazzle her with the prospect of the treasure, Hoël repeating the conjuration. Thunder, which has been menacing in the background, breaks out violently overhead. In a vigorous allegro with a strongly marked rhythm, ‘O plaisir! Voici l’orage’, Dinorah greets the storm. There develops a trio as Corentin grows increasingly apprehensive and Hoël is troubled by something familiar about the sound of Dinorah’s voice. At the height of the storm with the sky as bright as day, the goat is seen running across a tree bridging a ravine. Dinorah rushes after it but half way across a bolt of lightning breaks the tree in two and she plunges into the chasm. Hoël, at last recognising Dinorah as his own beloved, goes to her rescue. It is a powerful piece reminiscent of the great trio from Robert le Diable. In the fashion of Grand Opéra, the composer has marshalled all forces, carrying the action forward in a great wave, then arresting it at its apex, when all the resources of the theatre are brought together in a spectacle at once vocal, orchestral and scenic. ACT III The first part of act three is taken up with a pastoral interlude only indirectly related to the plot. A short entrance introduces a huntsman who sings a joyous air. The frequent slurred intervals give it a jaunty rhythm, while five horns provide appropriate colour. The reaper’s song which follows also uses dotted rhythms and the sweep of the scythe being sharpened is suggested by the woodwind, in delicate upward arpeggi. Two goatherds enter playing their pipes and sing a charming duet in thirds. The interlude comes to an end with all four voices together in a quartet. Each of the characters talks of the storm in the night, then they render thanks to God in the Pater Noster. It is an atmospheric scene and the music is exceptionally attractive. Although irrelevant dramatically, it provides a vocal equivalent of the visual spectacle offered by the ballet in Grand Opéra. The action now resumes and Corentin comes in unable to talk of anything save the events of the night. Shortly afterwards Hoël appears carrying Dinorah in his arms. At first he believes her dead but when she stirs, he sings the famous air, ‘Ah! mon remords’, stricken with remorse, he begs her to speak to him. This by modern baritones is inexplicable. The music has genuine romantic feeling; it requires a singer of great finesse with a beautiful voice able to produce the repeated G flats with ease and lovely tone. When Dinorah awakens, her reason returns and Hoël persuades her that the events of the last year were but a dream. In her happiness and relief, she endeavours to recall the prayer to the virgin sung on the day of the Pardon. Even as she does so it is taken up by an approaching group of villagers. It is once again the day of the festival, the year has passed and the lovers reunited resume their interrupted journey to the chapel. Each of the characters asks forgiveness of the virgin as the processional music, first heard in the overture, now fully developed, brings the work to a fitting conclusion. c. 1980 Michael Scott

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