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Ophélie (trios: soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone with chamber ensemble)

by Kevin March (2007)

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The Australian Music Centre's catalogue does not include any recordings or sheet music of this work. This entry is for information purposes only.

It is listed in our catalogue because an event featuring a performance of this work was included in our calendar of Australian music. Details of this performance are listed below.

Work Overview

Arthur Rimbaud's Ophélie, composed in May of 1870 when the revolutionary poet was only 16, is a lush work of French symbolist poetry. Both beautiful and haunting, its lavish imagery and evocative similes teem with musical possibilities. For this reason, I was quite surprised to find that little musical attention has been paid to this remarkable poem.

The opening lines:

Sur l'onde calme et noire où dorment les étoiles

On the calm, black wave where the stars sleep

La blanche Ophélia flotte comme un grand lys,

White Ophelia floats like a great lily,

set the tone and contain most of the musical material, in one form or another, for the entire 20-minute work. This preternatural vision of a spectral Ophelia and all that it implies, the beauty and the tragedy, the tenderness and the madness, unfolds over the course of the work just as the breeze unfurls her dreamy veils, like the opening of an apparitional lily.

Work Details

Year: 2007

Instrumentation: Soprano, mezzo soprano, baritone, flute, viola, harp, and percussion.

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Sur l'onde calme et noire où dorment les étoiles -- II. Ô pâle Ophélia! belle comme la neige! -- III. Et le Poète dit qu'aux rayons des étoiles.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Halcyon

Written for: Halcyon

First performance: by Halcyon — 6 Oct 07. Sydney Conservatorium of Music

The composer notes the following styles/genres/influences on this work:
French, Shakespeare, Rimbaud

Awarded the 2009 Dorian Le Gallienne Prize for Chamber Music

Performances of this work

9 Jul 2012: at French Letters / Aussie Accents (The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, Timothy Phillips.

6 Oct 07: Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Featuring Halcyon.

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