Monday Music: Ouvre ton coeur (Bizet)

Here’s something bright and bouncy to make you dance on a Monday morning!  It’s by Bizet, who is best known for the opera Carmen, and is clearly fond of Spanish musical styles – this one is a Bolero, and utterly gorgeous, and it must be said, I am terribly cross that one of my fellow singing students found and laid claim to this before I could – I really covet this piece of music!

The singer is Youngok Shing, a Korean soprano who I’m going to have to keep an eye out for (the lovely thing about writing this blog is that I keep discovering new singers to listen to and learn from).  I listened to a lot of versions of this piece before finding this version, and to me, there was no contest – her voice has a lightness to it that really suits this style of music, and she keeps her vibrato very closely under control, which I think is absolutely necessary in something this lively and fast moving.

(Having said this, I did quite like Joan Sutherland’s version, which has a lovely orchestral accompaniment , and if you want something very different indeed, here’s one by counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, which I don’t quite love, but the lower voice and slower pace bring a different, perhaps more seductive colour to the tune.  There is no excuse for the random bird sound effects, however.)

I was trying to find out more about this piece of music, and discovered it was part of a symphonic poem written during the period of a Prix de Rome grant (which was supposedly about religious music, but apparently, Bizet had rather gone off religious music after writing an unimpressive Te Deum).  Later on, it got shoe-horned into an opera about Ivan The Terrible, in which, as far as I can tell, it gets sung by a Young Bulgarian as a song about his home country (which is apparently Spain…).  I can sort of see why the opera didn’t quite work out, because the lyrics make absolutely no sense in this context, even by opera standards.

Here they are, in case you were interested:

La marguerite a fermé sa corolle,
L’ombre a fermé les yeux du jour.
Belle, me tiendras-tu parole?
La marguerite a fermé sa corolle,
Ouvre ton coeur, ouvre ton coeur
Ouvre ton coeur – à mon amour.Ouvre ton couer, ô jeune ange, à ma flamme
Qu’un rêve charme ton sommeil
Je veux reprendre mon âme
Comme une fleur s’ouvre au soleil
Ouvre ton coeur, ouvre ton coeur
Ô jeune ange, à ma flamme
The daisy has closed its corolla
Darkness has shut the eyes of day
Lovely one, will you speak with me?
The daisy has closed its corolla….
Open your heart, open your heart
Open your heart – to my love.Open your heart, o young angel, to my flame
That a dream may charm your sleep
I want to take back my soul.
As a flower opens in the sun
Open your heart, open your heart
O young angel, to my flame.

If that’s a song about Bulgaria, then I fear the symbolism is too great for me to grasp…

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