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Plus blanche que la blanche hermine

Opera details:

Opera title:

Les Hugenots


Giacomo Meyerbeer




Les Hugenots Synopsis


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Aria details:




Raoul de Nangis





Previous scene: Pour les couvents c'est fini
Next scene: Non loin des vieilles tours

Ivan Ershov, "Plus la blanche que la blanche hermine", Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots (rec. 1903)

Singer(s): Ivan Yershov Francesco Tamagno

The great Russian dramatic tenor Ivan Yershov (1867-1943, other transliterations include Ivan Erschov or Ivan Ershov) enjoyed enormous popularity in Imperial Russia, but is virtually unknown and under-represented nowadays. Here's his recording of Raoul's aria "Plus blanche que la blanche hermine" from Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots (sung in Russian), made in 1903 for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company.

The following biographical profile has been compiled from Harold Barnes' programme notes for "Singers of Imperial Russia, Vol. 1" (Pearl) and Michael Scott's "Record of Singing":
"Ivan Vasil'evich Yershov was born in the region of Novocherkassk on 20 November 1867. Originally trained as a railraod mechanic, even as an adolescent he was obviously a very promising singer, and he was brought to the attention of Anton Rubinstein, then Director of the St Petersberg Conservatory, and with Rubinstein's backing, was admitted at the age of barely 21 on a full scholarship to the conservatory, studying there between 1888 and 1893. At the end of that time, he made his debut at the Mariinsky Theatre, later to be the scene of many of his greatest triumphs. Immediately afterwards he went to Milan for further study with Rossi, a well-known teacher of that time. While in Italy, he sang in Turin and Reggio Emilia. After returning to Russia in 1894, he spent a season in Kharkov. The following year he rejoined the Mariinsky, where he remained a principal of the company for 34 years.

Yershov's popularity in Russia was enormous and he was thought by many to rival Francesco Tamagno (the creator of Otello) in the heroic repertory. He sang Otello, Tristan, Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Siegmund, Siegfried and Florestan, the title role of Le Prophete and Raoul in Les Huguenots, as well as Sobinin in A Life for the Tsar, Berendy in The Snow Maiden, Finn in Ruslan and Ludmilla, the title role in Doubrovsky, Tucha in The Maid of Pskov and Grushka Kuterma in Rimsky-Korsakov's The Invisible City of Kitezh.

From 1915 he taught singing at his alma mater the St Petersberg Conservatory. During the Nazi blockade of Leningrad, he was evacuated with the conservatory to safety in Tashkent, where he died, aged 76, on 21 November 1943.

Watch videos with other singers performing Plus blanche que la blanche hermine:


Non loin des vieilles tours
et des remparts d’Amboise
seul j’égarais mes pas,
quand j’aperà§ois soudain
une riche litière au détour du chemin;
d’étudiants nombreux la troupe
l’entourait, et leurs cris,
leur air audacieux
me laissaient deviner leur projet:
je m’élance...
Tout fuit à  mon aspect.
Timide, je m’avance...
Ah! quel spectacle enchanteur
vint s’offrir à  mes yeux!

Plus blanche que la blanche hermine,
plus pure qu’un jour de printemps,
un ange, une vierge divine,
de sa vue éblouit mes sens.
Vierge immortelle!
Qu’elle était belle!
Et malgré moi devant elle m’inclinant,
je disais, je lui disais:
Belle ange, reine des amours,
beauté du ciel,
Je t’aimerais toujours!

En m’écoutant, un doux sourire
trahit le trouble de son coeur,
et dans ses yeux j’ai su lire
le présage de mon bonheur.
Amant fidèle, flamme nouvelle
brûle mon coeur, flamme éternelle
me brûle encor, et je me dis:
Belle ange, reine des amours,
beauté du ciel,
Je t’aimerais toujours!

English Libretto or Translation:

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