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Lakmé is an opera in three acts by the French composer Léo Delibes libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille, based on the novella of 1880 rarahu ou Le Mariage de Loti of Pierre Loti. Delibes wrote the music between 1881 and 1883 . Like many other French works from that period, also Lakmé captures the oriental atmosphere in vogue at the time: the work, in fact, is set in India during the period of domination of English.
The first performance took place at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on April 14 1883 with the soprano Marie van Zandt. In the UK the premiere was 6 June 1885 at the Gaiety Theatre (London). At the Metropolitan Opera House of New York premiere was in 1892 with the van Zandt and Edouard de Reszke and until 1947 had 63 performances.
At the Wiener Staatsoper premiere it was in 1904 , directed by Bruno Walter and until 1925 had 58 performances. At the Opéra-Comique in 1909 he reached 500 performances. At the Royal Opera House , Covent Garden in London will be on stage in 1910 for the Grand Opera Syndicate Limited. At the Opéra-Comique in 1931 he reached 1,000 performances. At the San Francisco Opera it was staged in 1934 directed by Gaetano Merola with Ezio Pinza .
The Grand Theatre of Geneva was staged in 1945 .The duet Lakme-Mallika, known as the Flower Duet , is the page most famous work, also due to its repeated use in advertising and film. However, the air "Où va la jeune Hindoue?" notes as "air bells", the second act, is considered to be an excellent piece for soprano coloratura given the incredible difficulty of the song due not only to sopracuti but also agility. The opera is set in India under British rule, during which many Hindus were forced to practice their religion in secret and underground.
Hindus are going to perform their rituals in a temple by the high priest Nilakantha. Lakmé, the young daughter of Nilakantha, and her servant Mallika have lingered to go down to the river to collect flowers. Before entering the water, Lakmé takes off her jewels and their supporters on the riverbank. Two British officers, Frédéric and Gérald, coming close to a picnic along with two English girls and their governess. The girls see the Indian jewelry and Gérald makes some pencil drawings. Shortly after Gérald sees Lakme and Mallika back and hides.
Mallika leaves Lakmé alone for a while 'and Lakmé sees Gérald. For the fear of the stranger cries for help. However, it is curious about the man in uniform and thus leads via Lakmé Mallika when rushes to the screams. Lakmé and Gérald fall in love. Gérald enters home of Lakme when the father is away. When the high priest Nilakantha part, Lakme, to hide, he flees Gérald ago, but it was too late: his father saw him and decided to kill him.In a bazaar, Nilakantha forces Lakmé to sing the Air bells to attract the attention of the man who came into their home.
Gérald, not far, recognizes the voice of the beloved and approaches. Recognizing, Nilakantha stabs Gérald. Lakmé takes Gérald and takes him to a secret hideout in the forest to cure his injury.Lakme, and recovers the sacred water to confirm their vows as lovers, meets Frédéric, another British officer, who reminds her that Gerald should go back to the regiment. Desperate to have lost him, Lakme commits suicide by poisoning, while the beloved, weakened by injury, the coil in the arm.The duet Lakme-Mallika, popularly known as the Flower Duet , was often used as the soundtrack for TV commercials for example for the company British Airways.
A piano reduction of the Flower Duet is part of the soundtrack of the movie The Hunger by Tony Scott (1983). During the intro of an episode of The L Word is played the duet of flowers.