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Plus blanche que la blanche hermine

Opera details:

Opera title:

Les Hugenots

Composer:

Giacomo Meyerbeer

Language:

French

Synopsis:

Les Hugenots Synopsis

Libretto:

Not entered yet.

Translation(s):

Not entered yet.

Aria details:

Type:

aria

Role(s):

Raoul de Nangis

Voice(s):

Tenor

Act:

1

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

Giacomo Meyerbeer – LES HUGUENOTS – ‘Plus blanche que la blanche hermine’ (César Vezzani)

Singer: César Vezzani

LES HUGUENOTS
Opéra en 5 actes
Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864)
Libretto: Eugène Scribe & Émile Deschamps
First performance : Paris Opera, 29 February 1836

SETTING: Touraine and Paris, August 1572

PLOT: Raoul de Nangis, a young Huguenot, has fallen in love with an unknown beauty whom he rescued. At the Comte de Nevers’ château, he sees the woman visit Nevers in secret. She is really Valentine, daughter of the Comte de Saint-Bris, sent by Marguerite de Valois (1553–1615), sister of Charles IX and daughter of Catherine de Médicis, to break off her engagement to Nevers. To reconcile the warring religious factions, Marguerite wants Valentine to marry Raoul, just as she will marry the Protestant monarch Henri de Navarre. However, Raoul refuses to marry Valentine, whom he believes is Nevers’s mistress. Back in Paris, Nevers marries Valentine. (Saint-Bris has tried to murder Admiral Coligny, the leader of the Huguenot party.) To avenge the insult to his house, Saint-Bris plans to murder Raoul in a duel, but Raoul’s servant Marcel, warned by Valentine, saves him. Raoul learns the real reason for Valentine’s visit to Nevers, and that he wronged her. He visits Nevers’ Parisian town-house in secret, where he overhears the Catholics plot to murder the Huguenots – a plot conceived by Catherine de Médicis herself. After they have left, Valentine tries to restrain Raoul: ‘Stay! I love you.’ They sing a passionate love duet, but the noise of the tocsin outside brings him to his senses, and he leaves to fight with his co-religionists. The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s day has begun. In the streets of Paris, Valentine tells Raoul that if he converts to Catholicism, his life will be saved; Raoul refuses. Valentine renounces her faith, and accepts Raoul’s; Marcel marries them. The Catholics shoot the three; Saint-Bris learns that he has murdered his own daughter. The murderers sing that God demands blood, as the powerless Marguerite passes over the stage. Beginning on 23–24 August 1572, between 5,000 and 30,000 were killed across France over the next few weeks.

‘Les Huguenots’ is an astonishing opera. It starts almost light-heartedly, close to opéra-comique or Rossini, and ends in blackest tragedy, with music anticipating Verdi.

It was the most popular opera of the 19th century, performed around the world, and was the first work to be performed at the Paris Opéra more than a thousand times (1906). Verdi called Acts II and IV ‘true theatre … stupendo’, while Berlioz thought the ‘superb’ opera contained ‘enough musical riches for twenty operas’. Even the young Wagner was impressed: ‘Meyerbeer wrote world history, the history of heart and feeling; he burst the bounds of national prejudice in writing deeds of music.’

No. 2 – Scène & Romance: ‘Plus blanche que la blanche hermine’
Raoul de Nangis tells the Catholic noblemen of a beautiful woman he rescued from a group of students.

Raoul de Nangis, gentilhomme protestant / Protestant gentleman (tenor): César Vezzani

1930

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

Libretto/Lyrics/Text/Testo:

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
discourtoise
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:

Not entered yet.

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