Francois Boieldieu - La dame blanche - "Viens, gentille dame" (Laurence Dale)


"La dame blanche" was among the most popular French comic operas of the nineteenth century: indeed, it had over 1,000 performances at Opera-Comique alone. Although it has since pretty much faded into the annals of operatic history, it actually shows its composer, Boieldieu, and the very genre of the French opera-comique at their best. Georges Brown, the opera's primo tenor, actually has not one but three long solo scenes, one in each of the three acts (he's pretty much in every piece of the opera), and, to be honest, these three numbers are probably the best music in the whole opera (I will try to post the pastoral third scene which is quite inspiring). But the real gem of the opera is Georges' "Viens, gentille dame". The scene is pretty straightforward structurally: a classic "ABA" aria is followed by a short but exciting cabaletta with a repeat of the main "A" theme as a finish to the whole aria. The real "shocker" comes in the fact that the aria, in spite of its sentimental text and gentle melodic line, isn't actually a serious romance: it's a half-humorous call of Georges to the "Lady in White" about whom the villagers were warning him in Act One. There is impatience, anxiety in the text but stronger emotions aren't really present (though they are possible). Anyway, the aria is still one of the most beautiful pieces in the entire French repertory. The piece was recorded successfully by Gedda and Wunderlich, but there is something very special in the way the English tenor Laurence Dale sings the piece, so I decided to upload it. Enjoy :)!

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