Teressa Byrne Foss, soprano and Dmitriy Cogan, pianist performing Philine's aria "Je suis Titania" from the opera MIGNON by Ambroise Thomas, at the First Unitarian Church in San Jose CA, August 2014.
Note from Tess: The character of the flirtatious actress Philine was originated in Paris at the Opera-Comique by Belgian soprano Marie Cabel (with whom I share a birthday!), who asked Thomas to write this piece for her. Later, in the Drury Lane production in London, the coloratura soprano Elisa Volpini apparently felt this aria wasn't enough to show her off - ?! - and made Thomas write her a second aria, "Alerte, alerte, Philine!", which at some point I hope to get my hands on. Sheesh, coloratura sopranos can be demanding!
Philine is singing about having triumphed in her portrayal of the fairy queen Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", in which Titania spends much of the play wooing a man who has the head of an ass. The parallel between that and the men swarming around Philine in the opera - one of whom is the baron at whose castle Midsummer is performed, another of whom is the baron's nephew - is rather amusing.
À merveille! j'en ris d'avance! De tous mes amoureux le défilé commence!
Alerte, alerte, Philine! Te voilà vraiment dan ton élément! Tourmente, lutine et trompe tour à tour Tous ces malheureux affolés d'amour! Ah! pourant!
J'avais fait un plus doux rêve! Un autre avait touché mon coeur! Avant que la nuit s'achève Le reverrai-je? Est-ce lui qui sera mon vainqueur? Bah! s'il m'oublie, oublions aussi, Et rions aux dépens de ceux qui sont ici!