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The Lyric Stage: July 23 Highlights from "Lakme" by Leo Delibes

The music of Lakme by Leo Delibes is wonderfully French and served well by Mady Masple and the French cast conducted by Alain Lombard in this week's recording. The Flower Duet from Act One is justly included on many highlights recordings. But the plot has not aged well, and that is probably a reason why only three companies in America have produced it in the last several years.

Princess Lakme gives her lover Gerald a devotion he returns until it is not convenient. He is a British officer stationed in India who falls for Lakme.  Lakme's father is outraged and stabs Gerald, and Lakme and a friend hide him and nurse him back to health. He rewards her by going back to his regiment when his superior orders him too. Feeling disgraced, Lakme eats a  poisonous flower and dies.

It is easy to be flippant about such a story,  but the plot asks that we put ourselves as an audience into the mindset of a young woman trapped in the stifling and soul killing expectations of her time. If we can do that, the music becomes even more rewarding.