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  • Writer's pictureNereid

La Dame Blanche: The Haunting Voice from Scotland

Illustration by Nereid

In 1881, this was how Richard Wagner reviewed the La Dame Blanche (The White Lady)” :


C’est la plus belle qualité des Français que s’exprime dans cet opéra, une certaine légèreté mélancolique, qui sait la tristesse de toute chouse et qui pourtant sourit.

(This opera expressed the most beautiful quality of the French. It reveals a lightness of melancholic sadness, yet blends with a slight of laughter. )

François-Adrien Boieldieu was especially famous for the comic opera, which was a type of opera-style originated from folk culture. The story is usually about daily life. And “La Dame Blanche” is a perfect mixture of the romantic comedy and gothic style.

Inspired by two of Walter Scott’s popular novels, the libretto of “La Dame Blanche” written by Eugène Scribe is not complicated to understand and is related to people’s life.

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage

The story tells about an abandoned castle of Avenel’s in Scotland in 1759 that is going to be auctioned. On the other hand, Anna (played by Elsa Benoit) is trying to stop the auction from happening. In order to compete with Gaveston (played by Jérôme Boutillier) who wants to title the castle to himself, she disguises as the protector of the castle” White Lady” from the folk tale and tricks the amnesiac soldier, George to help her.

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage

One of the arias that I enjoyed the most is the “D’ici voyez ce beau domaine (Seeing the beautiful estate from here)” sang by the mezzo soprano Sophie Martin Degor. Her voice was tender, yet, decisive about how the White Lady knows everything. It was a crucial moment when the eccentric story of the White Lady is brought out.

“Prenez garde! La Dame Blanche vous regarde, La Dame Blanche vous entend.”

(Beware! The White Lady sees you. The White Lady hears you.)

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage

I was charmed by the voice of Philippe Talbat, the tenor who sang as George. His voice was like the still water that runs deep and long which was soothing and pleasant to listen.

Philippe perfectly performed an amnesiac soldier who was fearless and optimistic even if he is not able to remember.

“Mais j’avais une amoureuse; où donc est-elle? J’entends, je comprends. Ah! Quel plaisir d’être soldat!”

(But I have a lover, so where is she? I understand, I comprehend. Ah! What a pleasure to be a soldier!)

(Full article on Nereid, Elle Rêve)

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