OP0093. LA DAME BLANCHE (Boieldieu) - Excerpts, Broadcast Performance, 25 July, 1944, w.Labis Cond. Radio-Lyrique Ensemble; Louis Arnoult, Odette Turba-Rabier, Claudine Collart, etc. (France) Malibran 511. - 3760003775110
“Who could possibly have predicted that this recording, made in such precarious and terrible circumstances, should turn up in perfect sound 60 years later?....Thanks to the vagaries of fate and history, Odette Turba-Rabier remained in France and in relative obscurity, whereas Lily Pons went to America and world fame, but it is highly unlikely she could have sung this rôle with greater poise and charm.”
- Patrick Bade, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2011
“LA DAME BLANCHE is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer François-Adrien Boieldieu. The libretto was written by Eugène Scribe and is based on episodes from no less than five works of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. The opera has typical elements of the Romantic in its Gothic mode, including an exotic Scottish locale, a lost heir, a mysterious castle, a hidden fortune, and a ghost, in this case benevolent. The work was one of the first attempts to introduce the fantastic into opera and is a model for works such as Giacomo Meyerbeer's ROBERT LE DIABLE and Charles Gounod's FAUST. The opera's musical style also heavily influenced later operas like LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, I PURITANI and LA JOLIE FILLE DE PERTH.
LA DAME BLANCHE was first performed on 10 December 1825 by the Opéra-Comique at the Théâtre Feydeau in Paris. It was a major success and became a standby of the 19th century operatic repertory in France and Germany. By 1862, the Opéra-Comique had given more than 1,000 performances of LA DAME BLANCHE.
The opera's popularity began to diminish towards the very end of the 19th century and performances since have been rare. The overture was put together from Boieldieu's themes by his student Adolphe Adam.
Boieldieu's score is highly expressive and full of striking numbers. Of particular note are Jenny's ballad, Brown's entrance aria and the music sung by Anna, which is highly florid and preceded by harp arpeggios whenever the Dame Blanche (White Lady) appears. The central dramatic focus of the opera is the auction scene, an ensemble in the Italian style which has an intensity not equalled or surpassed by any other opéra comique of that period, either by Boieldieu or his contemporaries. The aria from the opera that is most often performed today in recital is the tenor aria, ‘Viens, gentille dame’.”
- Loyal Bluto