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FULL MIREILLE TV-Opera France 1959 Gabriel Bacquier, Géori Boué, Simone Couderc, Nadine Fosse

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Information about the Recording
  • Published by: Radiodiffusion Télévision Française  
  • Date Published: 1959  
  • Format: Broadcast
  • Quality Video: 3 Audio:3
  • Subtitles: nosubs  
  • Video Recording from:     FULL VIDEO
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Mireille is an 1864 opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Michel Carré after Frédéric Mistral’s poem Mirèio. The vocal score is dedicated to George V of Hanover.

Composition history
Mistral had become well known in Paris with the publication of the French prose translation of Mireio in 1859, and Gounod probably knew the work by 1861. He was charmed by its originality, the story being much less contrived than many of those on the operatic stage at the time. The action of the opera is quite faithful to Mistral, although the sequence of events of the Val d’Enfer (Act 3, Scene 1) and Mireille’s avowal of her love of Vincent to her father (Act 2 finale) are reversed in the opera. Gounod’s biographer James Harding has argued that “what matters in this extended lyric poem is not the story but the rich tapestry of Provençal traditions, beliefs and customs that Mistral unfolds.”

During the course of composition Gounod spent much time in Provence (12 March to the end of May 1863), visiting the sites of the action in the poem/opera, and met Mistral on several occasions at his home in Maillane. Gounod stayed at the Hôtel de la Ville Vert in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and was treated to a banquet by the townspeople on 26 May. Presenting class differences in a rural setting was not usual at the time, and as the musicologist Steven Huebner comments “some early reviewers had difficulty accepting that a ‘mere’ country girl could sing an aria with heroic cut such as ‘En marche’.”

Place: Provence
Time: 19th Century
Act 1
A mulberry grove on Midsummer night (Fête de la Saint-Jean).
Girls sing as they pick the leaves to feed to silkworms. Taven, an old woman who lives in nearby caves, joins them and comments on their jollity, but they laugh at “the witch” and Clemence voices her wish for a rich husband. Mireille however wants to marry for love, even if her husband be poor and shy, but is teased by the other girls who know that she has set her heart on a poor basket-weaver, Vincent. Taven shares her forebodings with Mireille. Vincent passes by and Mireille gets him to confess his love. As they part, they swear to meet in the church of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer if anything befalls one of them. The girls are heard singing the opening chorus in the distance.

Act 2
In front of the Arles Amphitheatre the same afternoon.
The crowd is singing and dancing a farandole as it waits for the start of a race. Mireille and Vincent arrive separately but they are greeted joyfully and sing the Song of Magali. After the race, Taven takes Mireille aside and tells her that she has just seen three young men, Ourrias, Alari and Pascoul arguing who should claim Mireille’s hand. Alone, Mireille swears that nothing will part her from Vincent. Ourrias enters and forces his boastful attentions on her but Mireille politely rejects his advances. Mireille’s father Ramon enters, followed shortly by Ambroise, the father of Vincent. Ambroise asks for advice on what to do about his son who is in love with a rich heiress; Ramon suggests beating the boy to cure him. Shocked, Ambroise is reminded by Ramon of a father’s prerogative which used to extend even to life and death over his children. At this, Mireille comes forward crying “Kill me!” – she is the one Vincent loves. Ramon is outraged, orders Mireille to go home then turns on Vincent and Ambroise.

Act 3
First Tableau: The Val d’Enfer in the country outside Arles. Night
Ourrias and some friends are in the wild spot, supposedly peopled by spirits. Ourrias wants to buy a potion from Taven. Alone, Ourrias vents his fury and jealousy and lies in wait for Vincent, who soon appears. Ourrias insults him but although Vincent tries to calm him down, Ourrias strikes him with his trident, and thinking he has killed him, runs off. Taven hears cries and curses Ourrias as he rushes off, then tends to the unconscious Vincent.

Second Tableau: The banks of the Rhône

Full of remorse, Ourrias hurries to the river bank and calls the ferryman. An echo greets his call and moans sound with ghosts floating above the water. The ferryman (Passeur) arrives and Ourrias impatiently gets aboard. The waters swell, and as the boatman reminds Ourrias of his crime, the boat sinks beneath the waves.

Act 4
First Tableau: Ramon’s farm late the same night
While the harvesters celebrate, Ramon is sad and knows that by denying Mireille’s love he has destroyed his dream of a happy old age. From her window Mireille sees a young shepherd singing, and envies his carefree life. Unseen, Vincenette, Vincent’s sister, comes to tell her that Vincent is wounded: Mireille resolves to set off at once to Saintes-Maries.

Second Tableau: The Crau desert
Mireille, staggers in already tired, and dazzled by the sun, faints as she hears shepherd’s pipes in the distance. She makes a last effort to continue her journey.

Act 5
In front of the chapel of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Midday
Pilgrims are singing. Vincent is there, looking for Mireille, and she arrives, exhausted and collapses in his arms. Ramon arrives with Vincenette, and forgives her, but Mireille dies and is called to heaven by a celestial voice.

Quoted from Wikipedia


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