Home Limerick People Au fond du Temple Saint

Au fond du Temple Saint

7 min read
4
0
400

Over the last number of years I have slowly tried to educate myself in Opera. As a kid I often resented operatic music being played at home. Apparently I accused my mother of trying to make Sunday’s ‘depressing’ as she sat reading the papers and listening to an operatic medley. I do remember feeling a sense of uneasiness as such tunes would fill the halls of my Limerick home. As I look back I wonder if this uneasiness was simply a child’s instinctive identification with many of the musical sentiments.

Anyhow, enough waffle. Opera is no longer depressing. It is wonderful.

I have enjoyed finding arias that I love, finding the english translation for them and learning about their context withing a particular opera. In this post I am uploading a duet from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers. The video is of Roberto Alagna and Bryn Terfyl – it is considered by many to be the best rendition of this famous piece. I have included the background and translations. I hope you enjoy.

Au fond du temple saint
from The Pearl Fishers (Les Pêcheurs de Perles)
Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto in French by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon Scene: The coast of Ceylon. Zurga, the newly elected leader of the little world of Cingalese fishermen, has scarcely been inaugurated when Nadir, a long-lost friend of his youth, appears. After greeting one another with affection, they recall the time when they were foolish enough to quarrel over a beautiful priestess in the temple of Brahma, Leila.In the duet, “Au fond du temple saint” the two men sing rapturously about falling in love at first sight with a beautiful woman as she was revealed to them for an instant in the dim, incense-clouded temple. For each it was an almost mystical experience. When they realize they were in love with the same woman, they are alarmed. Believing themselves cured of the old infatuation, they swear eternal friendship.

BRYN
It was in the evening!
In the air cooled by a breeze,
The brahmanes with faces flooded with light,
Slowly called the crowd to prayer!

ROBERTO
At the back of the holy temple,
decorated with flowers and gold,
A woman appears!
BRYN
A woman appears!
ROBERTO
I can still see her!
BRYN
I can still see her!

ROBERTO
The prostrate crowd
looks at her amazed
and murmurs under its breath:
look, this is the goddess
looming up in the shadow
and holding out her arms to us.

BRYN
Her veil parts slightly.
What a vision! What a dream!
The crowd is kneeling.

BRYN & ROBERTO
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess,
more charming and more beautiful.
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess
who has come down among us.
Her veil has parted and the crowd is kneeling.

ROBERTO
But through the crowd
she makes her way.

BRYN
Already her long veil
hides her face from us.

ROBERTO
My eyes, alas!
Seek her in vain!

BRYN
She flees!

ROBERTO
She flees!
But what is this strange flame
which is suddenly kindled in my soul!

BRYN
What unknown fire is destroying me?

ROBERTO
Your hand pushes mine away!

BRYN
Your hand pushes mine away!

ROBERTO
Love takes our hearts by storm
and turns us into enemies!

BRYN
No, let nothing part us!

ROBERTO
No, nothing!

BRYN
Let nothing part us!

ROBERTO
No, nothing!

BRYN
Let us swear to remain friends!
ROBERTO
Let us swear to remain friends!
BRYN
Let us swear to remain friends!

BRYN & ROBERTO
Oh yes, let us swear to remain friends!
Yes, it is her, the goddess,
who comes to unite us this day.
And, faithful to my promise,
I wish to cherish you like a brother!
It is her, the goddess,
who comes to unite us this day!
Yes, let us share the same fate,
let us be united until death!

Load More Related Articles
Load More By mike2016
Load More In Limerick People

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    23rd January 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you for the translation! I have wondered what this beautiful music was saying.

    Reply

  2. Alan Clarke

    14th July 2011 at 12:02 am

    Nice one Nigel. I really enjoyed that knowing what the words actually meant. A beautiful piece that I keep saying that i should learn. No excuses anymore.

    Reply

  3. Mrs. Vogt

    12th December 2011 at 4:57 am

    I just found your site and really enjoyed your post about your childhood experience and struggling with those strange emotions that opera (and classical music) tend to evoke. I think contemporary music incites a type of disconnected chaos while opera pulls us into the human experience.

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    3rd March 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you Nigel. I'm getting ready to sing this and could not find a satisfactory translation. All others seemed too literal of a translation from french. The song seemed disjointed until I saw Your translation. Now it makes perfect sense. Thank you so much.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Fergal Deegan – the real Mayor of Limerick?

In some circles Fergal Deegan has the nickname of ‘the real Mayor of Limerick’. Anyone who…