altFrench composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891) wrote a series of short operettas in his early 20s. His appointment to the Opéra as accompanist and chorus-master turned his interest towards ballet. He won worldwide acclaim with his ballets Coppélia and Sylvia.

Somehow, the opera lured him back and Lakmé was one of them. It is a tragedy in three acts. Interestingly, Delibes, a Frenchman, based the story from his travels in Tahiti, and set it in mid-19th century India.

Lakmé is a love story. It contains the famous coloratura show-piece, the "Bell Song."

Lakmé Background

It was the period when India was undergoing battles between the strong religious sects against the oppressive British rulers. There was no way that Brahmins would let their children marry foreigners.

Composer Delibes explored this conflict using his opera Lakme as a medium to capture the serious issue of race, religion, nationality, sex and caste. The main characters are a young Englishman and an Indian's daughter. The Indian father happens to be a Hindu priest, an Orthodox.

Lakmé Story

Opera Lakmé is based on the novel Le Mariage by another Frenchman, Pierre Loti. In the title role, is the beautiful daughter of Nilakantha, a Hindu priest of Brahmin caste. She is very well brought up.

The hero, a young Englishman, is Gerard. One day, he enters an off-limits temple, sees Lakmé and is enamored by her beauty.

Despite the rage and vindictiveness of her father, Gerard refuses to leave her. She too has fallen in love with him. When her father organizes a surprise attack, she tries to help Gerard out. But despite her help, Gerard is wounded. He is helped by one of Lakmé's loyal servants and is taken to a hideway where Lakmé tries to restore his health.

Realizing the hopelessness of their relationship, they drink from the same cup as a pledge for their love, an act supposed to join them together forever. Suddenly the sound of the bugle call sounds. Signal that Gerard's regiment has to leave.

What happens to their love? Below is a link to Opera Lakmé's brief synopsis.

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