NO(S) DAMES GB2022-06-09T10:23:16+00:00

Associated ARTIST of the French Lyric & Choreographic Company UP TO THE MOON, Théophile Alexandre works with them to create a new bridge between ARTS, mixing different artistic disciplines at the highest level (music, singing, dancing, numeric arts, literature…) to imagine innovative forms of recitals that inspire new and renewed emotions to a wider audience.

Second creation: NO(S) DAMES, GENDERLESS TRIBUTE TO OPERA’S DIVAS.
Production: UP TO THE MOON
Co-production: Limoges Opera, Le Volcan du Havre and the Quatuor Zaïde
Official supports: Région Normandie via its policy of Cultural Rights, Région Grand-Sud, Département Seine-Maritime, Mairie du Havre

NO(S) DAMES I NEW ALBUM & SHOW

NO(S) DAMES I Genderless tribute to opera’s divas

Stabbed, poisoned, eviscerated, burnt alive, strangled, shot dead… In 4 centuries of male operas, heroines’ destinies are as tragic as their arias are sublime. In 2022, what if Drama no longer rhymed with Diva? What if we reversed the roles?
NEW ALBUM : NO(S) DAMES, redistributing for the 1st time the musical lead to women and Ladies’ agonies to man.
By reversing the roles, the countertenor Théophile ALEXANDRE and the string quartet ZAÏDE sign both a singular and universal reinvention of divas’ arias, celebrating Carmen, Norma, Manon, Violetta… without perpetuating their gender stereotypes.
Other singularity of the disc : reuniting 23 operatic icons from 17  different composers, in a musical exquisite corps linking these arias together, and disrupting their clichés of madonnas, bitches and witches to draw the portrait of a same masculine idol : the Dame, as fantasized and imposed by men to women for centuries, beyond cultures or continents.
NO(S) DAMES : a discographic worldwide première already available – Label NoMad Music.
ON TOUR in 2022 and 2023 : Première of the Show the 18th of Jan 2022 at the Volcan du Havre.
Stage direction : Pierre-Emmanuel ROUSSEAU / Co-production : Limoges Opera & le Volcan du Havre.

YO SOY MARIA I Maria de Buenos Aires, Piazzolla

Heroine from Maria de Buenos Aires, the only opera of Astor Piazzolla, Maria lives a tragic life, from the glory in cabarets to the disgrace in a brothel, before being shot dead and cursed to haunt the streets of Buenos Aires forever.
Revisiting her emblematic aria, Théophile ALEXANDRE and the Quatuor ZAÏDE deliver a desperate and bewitching tango, playing with the voice gutturalness and the brutality of the sidewalk for the strings, to embody the tragic panache of this argentinian suburbian icon. Released for the hundredth birthday of Piazzolla’s birth, YO SOY MARIA is the 1st excerpt of NO(S) DAMES, genderless tribute to opera’s divas, celebrating the beauty of their arias beyond their gender stereotypes.

AH NON CREDEA I La Sonnambula, Bellini

Heroine of La Sonnambula, Amina gets repudiated by her fiancé that accuses her to be unfaithfull with his rival. When he finally understands she suffers from sleepwalking, he forgives her and gives her back her engagement ring, ultimate promise of happiness for women in the social codes of that period.
By redistributing the roles in her most famous aria, Théophile ALEXANDRE and the Quatuor ZAÏDE explore the male fragility by a tightrope and frail vocality, sustained by a matrix of strings stretched up to vertigo. AH NON CREDEA is the 2nd excerpt of their album NO(S) DAMES, genderless tribute to opera’s tragic heroines, celebrating for the first time the divas’ arias beyond their traditional gender caricatures.

L’AMOUR EST UN OISEAU REBELLE I Carmen, Bizet

Iconic heroine, the gipsy Carmen seduces Don José. But also courted by Escamillo, she finally chooses him after months of quarrels with Don José. Mad with jealousy, Don José stabs her.
If I love you, beware… By putting back these words into a male mouth, Théophile ALEXANDRE and the Quatuor ZAÏDE reveal the true meaning of this dark message, announcing the tragic destiny male composers imagined for her. With swing in the strings and casualness in the voice, L’AMOUR is the 3d excerpt of their album NO(S) DAMES, genderless tribute to opera’s tragic heroines, celebrating for the first time the divas’ arias beyond their traditional gender clichés.

MUSIC VIDEOS NO(S) DAMES

Video YO SOY MARIA, Piazzolla

Video AH NON CREDEA, Bellini

Video L’AMOUR, Bizet

Singing & dancing: Théophile ALEXANDRE I Musical Direction: Quatuor ZAÏDE I Arrangements: Eric MOURET I Stage direction: Pierre-Emmanuel ROUSSEAU I Choreography: Béatrice WARRAND I Movie direction: Manon GICQUEL I Conception & Artistic direction: Emmanuel GREZE-MASUREL

NO(S) DAMES I New Show

5 black silhouettes liberated from gender attributes, a long blood-red glove, a couture gown…  On stage, NO(S) DAMES come alive in an operatic curiosity cabinet, mixing fantasized videos and divas’ accessories to explore the morbid fetichisms these “Divanities” carry, intertwining glamour and death in the great tradition of male Romanticism. In 3 acts, No(s) Madonnas, No(s) Bitches, No(s) Witches, the 5 artists redistribute the roles and disrupt these sexist clichés, to give a new life to our diva’s arias.
Stage direction I Pierre-Emmanuel ROUSSEAU
Choreography I Béatrice WARRANT
Video creation I Charlotte ROUSSEAU
Lights creation I Gilles GENTNER
Co-production I Limoges Opera & Le Volcan du Havre
Official supports I Région PACA, Région Normandie, Seine-Maritime, Marie du Havre.

CREATION & TOUR 21/22
– Avant-premières at the International String Quartet Festival of the Luberon and International in July 21 and at the Pamiers Pro-Musica Festival in November 21.
– Première at the Volcan, national stage from Le Havre the 18th of Jan 22, then in the Edwige Feuillère Theater from Vesoul the 20th of Jan 22, in Courbevoie Theater the 08th of Feb 21, the Marcoussis Theater the 15th of Feb 22, the Limoges Opéra the 18th of Feb 22, the Tangram, national stage from Evreux the 18th of March 22.
NEW TOUR 22/23 TO COME.

OFFICIAL TRAILER NO(S) DAMES

Singing & dancing: Théophile ALEXANDRE
Musical direction: Quatuor ZAÏDE
Adaptations: Eric MOURET
Stage direction: Pierre-Emmanuel ROUSSEAU
Choreography: Béatrice WARRANT
Stage videos: Charlotte ROUSSEAU
Trailer direction: Manon GICQUEL
Artistic conception: Emmanuel GREZE-MASUREL

Backstage NO(S) DAMES

Théophile presents NO(S) DAMES

In rehearsals with the artists

THE ARTISTS’ MANIFESTO

No(s) Dames (Our/No Ladies) were created to honour the heroines of four centuries of masculine operas, in order to celebrate their musical beauty while deconstructing their gender roles. Indeed, in this patriarchal heritage, the role of women is at the very least ambiguous, combining the sumptuous and the monstrous, divine arias and mistreating roles. Under all the velvet and the gildings, the diva aria often signals impending death, the woman is a queen only in the arena, pretended to be adored when she is more « matadored », as if it were madly romantic to equate ‘dames’ and ‘dramas’; as if for them, love could only be orchestrated to death under the wand of these gentlemen… Dame! By forcing his male words in your mouth, the librettist of Carmen had warned you: “If I love you, beware!”.

In the face of the deceitfulness of this heritage, what to do? “Prima la musica” and turn a blind eye to the rest? Rewrite the librettos? Warn the spectator that the masculine work presented reflects an era advocating values that are unconscionable today?…
We have chosen to reverse the traditional roles, by redistributing for the first time the musical direction to a quartet of women and the Ladies’ agonies to a man, in order to universalize these arias and make them live as allegories of human sufferance rather than gender ill-fates reserved to women.

In 2022, here are No(s) Dames: a genderless reinterpretation of 23 operatic icons and their series of multiple massacres; 23 stereotypes of madonnas, bitches and witches, inverted then assembled in a surreal musical collage. In No(s) Dames, Manon’s farewell then blends with that of Violetta ; Marie’s dreams of escape echoe Amina’s nightmares; Giulietta, Carmen and Maria become a sole temptress; Armide’s hysteria bodes Alcina’s fall…!
By connecting these women substitutes in their morbid sisterhood, No(s) Dames plays to the exquisite corpse, underlining the repetition of tragic destinies for these masculine heroines and drawing in undertones the portrait of a one and only idol: the DAME, as fantasized, created and imposed on women by men throughout centuries or continents.

Musically, we chose to give the arrangements of these macabre rituals to the talented Eric Mouret, with the crazy mission of transforming these epics for soprano and orchestra into quintets for string instruments and countertenor voice! Worse, we wanted to keep their orchestral flamboyance whilst injecting our chamber music intimacy. And even worse, we wanted to turn the Barcarolle into a tango that announces Carmen; give back to Juliette the original cords of her theme already written by Bellini in Adelson e Salvini; cut variations of the I masnadieri prelude or of Joan of Arc to tighten the argument.

There followed 9 months of creative laboratories to bring to life the unity of sound of No(s) Dames, while playing with the juxtaposition of styles to create an extreme contrast in between all our reinterpretations.
For the string instruments: from stretching to the maximum the bel canto to the baroque attacks that snap like consonants; from the «lush» sound of the old Hollywoodian violins in Youkali to the shrillness of Alcina, resembling the lacerations in Psycho; from the brutality of the “sidewalk” wind instruments of Maria to the possessed agoges of Salome…
For the voices: from the deprivation of Manon to Zaïde’s revolt; from the dreamy nostalgia of Marie to the maternal despair of Norma; from the gutturalness of the suburbs of Maria to the tightrope vocality of Amina…

For each one, we wanted to give a meaning to the sound and re-humanize these arias – an endeavour that can’t be separated from the articulateness of the text, as in songs -, thus excluding the whirls of colora(tor)tura in these high pitches where the language is no longer humanly possible.
For all of them, we wanted to explore the strength of the feminine and the fragility of the masculine, as opposed to all caricatures, by playing on the ambiguity of the countertenor’s voice and the earthbound strength of our strings’ matrix. Last but not least : we wanted the sound recording to be raw, unvarnished, with an intimate proximity, to better tell you the truth of each story under the sublime of the music.

On a more personal level, No(s) Dames is for us a project of maturity: artistic already, by asserting ourselves more as artists than performers, with this creative audacity and that quest for meaning that both challenge the status quo – especially in classical music where restitution is most important – without daring to question too much the substance of what we are restituting; human maturity as well, by assuming our responsibilities, in particular that of conscientiously choosing what we in turn transmit to our children who ask us at the opera: «Tell me mom, tell me dad, why is the lady screaming? Why is she crying? Why is she dying ». We no longer want to answer: «Because a man loves her…».

So… are No(s) Dames feminists? They are above all humanists, since untying the corsets of gender is left up to all of us, women and men united, so each one of us will be respected. In that sense, No(s) Dames is a lyric manifest of love, empathy and collective hope: raising fists but holding hands, and now on reaching out to you.

Théophile & the Zaïde.

Press reviews NO(S) DAMES

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Photos NO(S) DAMES

NO(S) DAMES institutional campaign shot by the photographer Julien BENHAMOU.

Photos: Julien BENHAMOU I Artistic direction: Emmanuel GREZE-MASUREL I Staging & stylism: Pierre-Emmanuel ROUSSEAU I Haute-couture gown: Julien FOURNIÉ I Corsets & crinolines: François TAMARIN I Butterfly: Maison DEYROLLE I Mannequins: Maison STOCKMAN I Hair & Make-up: Bruno SEGNI I Post-production: François BROCHENIN

NO(S) DAMES on stage

Official pictures of the show NO(S) DAMES, shot by the photographer Edouard BRANE.

Backstage NO(S) DAMES

Behind the scenes of the show NO(S) DAMES, with the photographer Edouard BRANE.

AUDIO NO(S) DAMES

Solveig, forsaken I SOLVEIG SANG, Grieg
Euridice, in hell I CHE FIERO MOMENTO, Gluck
Amina, possessed? I AH NON CREDEA, Bellini
Joan, burnt alive I ADIEU FORÊTS, Tchaïkovsky
Giulietta, poisoned I BARCAROLLE, Offenbach
Carmen, stabbed I L’AMOUR, Bizet
Maria, shot dead I YO SOY MARIA, Piazzolla
Amalia, stabbed I PRELUDE, Verdi
Zaïde, death sentence I TIGER, Mozart
Medea, infanticide I DELL’ANTRO MAGICO, Cavalli
Night Queen, defeated I DER HÖLLE RACHE, Mozart
Juliet, suicide I O QUANTE VOLTE, Bellini
Barbarina, deflowered? I L’HO PERDUTA, Mozart
Leonora, stabbed I PRELUDE, Verdi
Armida, abandonned I ODIO, FUROR, Haydn
Alcina, betrayed I AH MIO COR, Haendel
Anna, suicide I GIUSTO CIEL, Rossini
Salomé, crushed I SALOMES TANZ, Strauss
Manon, exhaustion I ADIEU, Massenet
Violetta, sick I ADDIO DEL PASSATO, Verdi
Norma, burnt alive I DEH NON VOLERLI, Bellini
Dalila, crushed I PRELUDE, Saint-Saëns
Marie, shot dead I YOUKALI, Weill

LADIES’ TRAGIC FATES IMAGINED BY MEN

1. SOLVEIG: forsaken I Grieg & Ibsen, Peer Gynt (1875), « Solveigs sang »

Peer Gynt marries Solveig but abandons her to travel the world and chase women. She faithfully waits for him for 30 years. Ruined, tired and dishonored, he’ll come back to die in her arms, seeking for redemption.

Kanske vil der gå
Både Vinter og Vår,
Og næste Sommer med,
Og det hele År;
Men engang vil du komme,
Det véd jeg visst;
Og jeg skal nok vente,
for det lovte jeg sidst.
Gud styrke dig,
Hvor du i Verden går!
Gud glæde dig, hvis du
For hans Fodskammel står!
Her skal jeg vente
Til du kommer igen;
Og venter du histoppe,
Vi træffes der, min Ven!

Winter may pass and
Beloved Spring disappear.
The summer too will vanish,
And then the year;
But you’ll come back, my love,
And leave me no more;
I gave you my heart, it’s waiting for you
Faithfully.
May God protect you!
In its infinite kindness
In the faraway land that keeps you
Away from home!
I’ll be waiting my love,
Up until my very last day;
I faithfully gave you my heart,
And this will never change!

L’hiver peut s’enfuir
Le printemps aimé s’écouler.
Feuilles d’automne et fruits d’été,
Tout peut passer ;
Mais tu me reviendras, mon amour,
Pour ne plus me quitter ;
Je t’ai donné mon coeur, il attend
Et ne saurait changer.
Que Dieu daigne encore
Dans sa grande bonté, te protéger !
Au pays lointain qui te tient exilé
Loin du foyer !
Moi je t’attends ici, doux fiancé,
Jusqu’à mon jour dernier ;
Je t’ai gardé mon coeur,
Fidèle, il ne saurait changer !

2. EURIDICE: in hell I Gluck & De Calzabigi, Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), « Che fiero momento »

Harrassed by a sheperd on her wedding day, Euridice flees but dies, bitten by a snake. Amor allows Orpheus to save her from the Underworld if he doesn’t look at her. But in the face of her incomprehension, he turns around and she dies again.

Che fiero momento, che barbara sorte,
Passar dalla morte a tanto dolor!
Avvezzo al contento d’un placido oblio,
Fra queste tempeste si perde il mio cor.
Vacillo, tremo.

What a harsh instant and bitter fate,
Moving from death to so much pain!
Used to the bliss of placid oblivion,
My heart is lost in these storms.
I waver, I tremble.

Quel dur moment, quel sort amer,
Passer du trépas à tant de douleur !
Habitué au doux bonheur de l’oubli,
Mon coeur s’égare dans la tempête.
Je vacille, je tremble.

3. AMINA: possessed? I Bellini & Romani, La sonnambula (1831), « Ah non credea mirarti »

Engaged to Elvino, Amina is courted by Rodolfo, and Elvino finds her asleep in his rival’s room. Mad with rage, he breaks up their engagement to marry Lisa, before realising Amina is in fact a sleepwalker.

Ah, non credea mirarti
Si presto estinto, o fiore!
Passasti al par d’amore,
Che un giorno sol durò.
Potria novel vigore,
Il pianto mio recarti.
Ma ravvivar l’amore
il pianto mio, ah no, non può…

Ah, never had I believed to see you
Perish so soon, dear flower !
You passed away as the love,
That only lived one day.
If only my tears could bring you
New strength,
Alas, my tears cannot revive love,
Oh no…

Ah, je ne croyais pas te voir
Si tôt morte, ô fleur chérie !
Tu as vécu comme l’amour,
qui ne dura qu’un seul jour.
Peut-être que mes larmes pourront
t’apporter une nouvelle vigueur,
Mais raviver l’amour, mes larmes
ne le pourront pas, ah non !

4. JOAN: burnt alive I Tchaïkovski, La Pucelle d’Orléans (1878), « Adieu forêts »

Joan of Arc leads France to victory against the English, but falls in love with Lionel Bourguignon, fighting for the enemy. She does not defend herself when accused of witchcraft by her own father, and is burnt alive.

Adieu forêts, adieu prés fleuris, champs d’or,
Et vous, paisibles vallons, adieu !
Jeanne aujourd’hui vous dit à jamais adieu.
Oui, pour toujours adieu !
Mes prés fleuris et mes forêts ombreuses,
Vous fleurirez pour d’autres que pour moi.
Adieu forêts, eau pure de la source,
Je vais partir, et ne vous verrai plus.
Jeanne vous fuit, et pour jamais…
Ô doux vallons où j’ai connu la joie !
Aujourd’hui je vous quitte, doux vallons…
Jeanne aujourd’hui vous dit à jamais adieu !
Oui, pour toujours adieu…
Prés fleuris, arbres verts, si chers à mon enfance,
Vous fleurirez pour d’autres que pour moi…
Adieu, mes champs, adieu, vallons et source pure,
Il faut partir, et pour toujours.
Ah ! Recevez mon éternel adieu !

Farewell forests, farewell meadows in bloom, golden fields,
And you, peaceful valleys, farewell!
Today, Joan is telling you yes forever, forever farewell.
Yes, forever, forever, farewell!
My meadows in bloom and my shadowed forests,
You will bloom for others rather than for me.
Farewell forests, pure water from the spring,
I shall be leaving, and never see you again.
Joan is fleeing you, and to never, yes to never…
Oh soft valleys where I knew joy!
Today I leave you, soft valleys…
Today Joan tells you yes forever, forever farewell!
Yes, forever, forever, farewell…
Meadows in bloom, green trees, so dear to my childhood,
You will bloom for others rather than for me…
Farewell, my fields, farewell, valleys and pure spring,
I must leave, I must leave and forever.
Oh! Accept my eternal farewell!

5. GIULIETTA: poisoned I Offenbach & Barbier, Hoffmann’s tales (1881), « Barcarolle »

Giulietta is a venetian courtesan who seduces Hoffmann and tries to steal his reflection. Incomplete, the work has two possible endings: either Hoffmann tries to stab her, or she is poisoned (the Richard Bonynge version).

6. CARMEN: stabbed I Bizet, Meilhac & Halévy, Carmen (1875), « L’Amour est un oiseau rebelle »

Carmen, a gypsy cigar maker, sets her sights on Don José while the toreador Escamillo also courts her. After months of quarreling with Don José, she chooses Escamillo. Mad with jealousy, Don José stabs her.

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c’est bien en vain qu’on l’appelle s’il lui convient de refuser.
Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière, l’un parle bien, l’autre se tait,
Et c’est l’autre que je préfère, il n’a rien dit mais il me plait.
L’amour est enfant de bohème, il n’a jamais connu de loi.
Si tu ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime, et si je t’aime, prends garde à toi !
L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendre battit de l’aile et s’envola.
L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre, tu ne l’attends plus, il est là.
Tout autour de toi, vite, vite, il vient, s’en va, puis il revient.
Tu crois le tenir, il t’évite ; tu crois l’éviter, il te tient.
L’amour est enfant de bohème, il n’a jamais connu de loi.

Si tu ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime, et si je t’aime, prends garde à toi !

Love is a rebellious bird that no one can tame,
And it’s vain to call it, if it prefers to deny us.
Threat or prayer don’t work, one talks, the other not,
And I prefer the other, he said nothing but I like him.
Love is Bohemia’s child that ignores every law.
If you don’t love me, I love you, and if I do, beware!
The bird you thought to catch flapped and flew away.
Love is far, you wait for it ; wait no more, it comes.
Fast around you, it comes, goes then comes back.
Try to hold it, it avoids you ; avoid it, it holds you.
Love is Bohemia’s child that ignores every law.

If you don’t love me, I love you, and if I do, beware!

7. MARIA: shot dead I Piazzolla & Ferrer, María de Buenos Aires (1968), « Yo soy María »

A factory worker who tastes glory in cabarets then downfall in a brothel, María is wounded by a gunshot and dies cursed, condemned to haunt the streets of Buenos Aires, chased by the Tango spirit.

Yo soy María de Buenos Aires
¿No ven quién soy yo?
María tango, María del arrabal,
María noche, María pasión fatal,
María del amor,
De Buenos Aires ¡soy yo!
Yo soy María de Buenos Aires
Si en este barrio la gente
Pregunta quién soy,
Pronto muy bien lo sabrán
Las hembras que me envidiarán,
Y cada macho a mis pies
Como un ratón en mi trampa ha de caer.
Yo soy María de Buenos Aires
Soy la más bruja cantando
¡Y amando también!
Si el bandoneón me provoca, ¡Tiará, tatá!
Le muerdo fuerte la boca, ¡Tiará, tatá!
Con diez espasmos en flor
Que yo tengo en mi ser.
Siempre me digo: ” ¡dale María!”
Cuando un misterio, me viene
Trepando la voz,
Y canto un tango
Que nadie jamás cantó
Y sueño, un sueño
Que nadie jamás soñó:
Porque el mañana es hoy
Con el ayer después, ¡che!
Yo soy María de Buenos Aires
Yo soy, mi ciudad
María tango, María del arrabal,
María noche, María pasión fatal,
María del amor,
De Buenos Aires ¡soy yo!

I’m María from Buenos Aires
Can’t they see who I am?
María Tango, María from the suburb,
María night, María fatal passion,
María of love,
From Buenos Aires, it’s me !
I’m María from Buenos Aires
If in this neighbourhood
People ask who I am,
Soon they will know
Women will envy me,
And each male falling at my feet
Like rats in a trap.
I’m María from Buenos Aires
I’m the witch that sings
And loves at the same time!
If the Bandoneon provoks me,
I’ll bite it fiercely,
With ten blooming spasms
That I carry in me.
I tell myself « Come on María! »
When a mystery
Climbs in my voice,
I sing a tango
That nobody ever sang
I dream a dream
That nobody ever dreamt:
For tomorrow is today
Leaving yesterday behind!
I’m María from Buenos Aires
I am my city
María tango, María from the suburb,
María night, María fatal passion,
María of love,
From Buenos Aires, it’s me!

Je suis María de Buenos Aires
Ils ne voient pas qui je suis ?
María tango, María du faubourg,
María nuit, María passion fatale,
María de l’Amour,
De Buenos Aires, c’est moi !
Je suis María de Buenos Aires
Si dans ce quartier
On se demande qui je suis,
Bientôt ils le sauront très bien
Les femmes qui m’envieront,
Et chaque mâle tombant
A mes pieds comme un rat.
Je suis María de Buenos Aires
Je suis la sorcière qui chante
Et qui aime aussi !
Si le bandoneón me provoque,
Je lui mords fort la bouche,
Avec dix spasmes en fleur
Que je porte en moi.
Je me dis toujours : “Allez María !”
Quand un mystère s’en vient
Me chatouiller la voix,
Et je chante un tango
Que personne n’a jamais chanté
Et je rêve un rêve
Que personne n’a jamais rêvé :
Parce que demain est aujourd’hui
Et qu’hier est derrière !
Je suis María de Buenos Aires
Je suis ma ville
María tango, María du faubourg,
María nuit, María passion fatale,
María de l’amour,
De Buenos Aires, c’est moi !

8. AMALIA: stabbed I Verdi & Maffei, I Masnadieri (1847), Prelude

Francesco betrays Carlo in order to steal his fiancée and to take power. Carlo becomes a brigand, finds back Amalia, who agrees to marry him. However, faithful to his brigand oath, he prefers to stab her and surrenders.

9. ZAÏDE: death sentence I Mozart & Schachtner, Zaïde (1780), « Tiger! Wetze nur die Klauen »

In love, the slaves Zaïde and Gomatz flee from the Sultan’s jealousy with the help of Allazim but are condemned to death. Allazim implores pardon for them. The unfinished opera does not say if it will be granted.

Tiger! Wetze nur die Klauen,
Freu’ dich der erschlichnen Blut’.
Straf’ ein törichtes Vertrauen
Auf verstelle Zärtlichkeit.
Komm’ nur schnell und töt’ uns beide,
Saug’ der Unschuld warmes But.
Tiger! Reiss’ das Herz vom Eingeweide
Und ersätt’ge deine Wut.
Ach mein Gomatz! Mit uns Armen
Hat das Schiksal kein Erbarmen.
Nur der Tod endigt unsre herbe Not.

Tiger! Sharpen your claws!
Rejoice in your ill-gotten prey!
Punish a foolish trust
In feigned tenderness.
Come quickly and kill us both,
Suck the blood of innocence.
Tiger! Rip the heart from our chests
And satisfy your rage!
Ah, my Gomatz! for us poor ones,
Fate has no compassion.
Only death can end our misery.

Monstre ! Aiguise tes griffes !
Repais-toi de ta proie mal acquise !
Punis sa sotte confiance
En ta tendresse feinte.
Viens vite nous tuer tous deux,
Et boire le sang de l’innocence.
Monstre ! Arrache nos coeurs
Et rassasie ta rage !
Ah, mon Gomatz ! Pour nous,
Pauvres gens, le sort est sans pitié.
Seule la mort adoucira nos peines.

10. MEDEA: infanticide I Cavalli & Cicognini, Il Giasone (1649), « Dell’antro magico »

Jason is going to marry Dircé, but the magician Medea – who helped him in his quest for the Golden Fleece and had sons with him – raves with jealousy. She kills Dircé, stabs her own children, and is sent to hell.

Dell’antro magico, stridenti cardini
Il varco apritemi.
E fra le tenebri del negro ospizio
Lasciatemi.
Sull’arca orribile del lago stigio
I fuochi splendino
E sù ne mandino fumi che turbino
La luce al sol.

Creaking hinges of the magic cavern
Open the passage for me.
And in that hospice’s shadows
Just let me in.
On the ark of the Stygian Lake
May the fires blaze
And raise on high smokes
That dim the light of the sun.

Charnières criantes de l’antre magique,
Ouvrez-moi le passage.
Et dans les ténèbres de cet hospice
Laissez-moi pénétrer.
Sur l’autel horrible des eaux du Styx,
Que les flammes resplendissent
Et projettent là-haut des fumées
Qui éclipsent la lumière du soleil.

11. NIGHT QUEEN: defeated I Mozart & Schikaneder, Die Zauberflöte (1791), « Der Hölle Rache »

Charged by the Queen to deliver Pamina from the tyrannical Sarastro, Tamino discovers that the Queen lied to him to take revenge on Sarastro. His journey leads him to love and light while the Night Queen is crushed.

12. JULIET: suicide I Bellini & Romani, I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830), « Oh! Quante volte »

The rival Capulets and Montagues witness their children fall in love. Juliet fakes her death to escape with Romeo. Unaware of the ploy, Romeo poisons himself. When she wakes up, Juliette stabs herself.

Oh! quante volte, oh quante,
Ti chiedo al ciel piangendo!
Con quale ardor t’attendo,
E inganno il mio desir!
Raggio del tuo sembiante
Ah ! Parmi il brillar del giorno…
Ah ! L’aura che spira intorno,
Mi sembra un tuo sospir…

Oh! How many a time, how many,
Do I beg heaven for you in tears!
How fervently I await you,
And my desire deceives!
A ray of your appearance
Ah! Seems to me the light of day…
Ah! The air swirling round
Seems to me one of your sighs…

Oh combien de fois, oh combien,
J’ai prié le ciel en pleurant !
Avec quelle ardeur je t’attends,
Et je trompe mon désir !
L’aura de ta présence
Ah ! Est pour moi la lumière du jour…
Ah ! Et l’air autour de moi
Est comme un soupir de toi…

13. BARBARINA: deflowered? I Mozart & Da Ponte, Le nozze di Figaro (1786), « L’ho perduta »

Charged with carrying an invitation to Almaviva, the maid Barbarina must bring back the pin closing the letter as proof of his acceptance. But she loses it and mourns painfully, as if she had lost much more…

L’ho perduta, me meschina!
Ah chi sa dove sarà?
Non la trovo,
L’ho perduta, meschinella!
Ah chi sa dove sarà ?
E mia cugina ? E il padron?
Cosa dirà?

I have lost it, miserable me!
Ah, who knows where it is?
I cannot find it, I have lost it,
Miserable me!
Ah, who knows where it is?
And my cousin? And the master?
What will they say?

Je l’ai perdue, pauvre de moi !
Ah qui sait où elle peut être ?
Je ne la trouve pas, je l’ai perdue.
Misérable de moi !
Ah qui sait où elle peut être ?
Et ma cousine, et le patron,
Que vont-ils dire ?

14. LEONORA: stabbed I Verdi & Piave, La forza del destino (1862), Prelude

Leonora loves Alvaro and flees with him. In their escape, Alvaro accidentally kills her father. Drunk with revenge, Carlo, her brother, pursues them. After an unsuccessful duel against Alvaro, he stabs his sister.

15. ARMIDA: abandoned I Haydn & Porta, Armida (1783), « Odio, furor, dispetto »

Sent by the Prince of Darkness to seduce the Christians of the First Crusade, the sorceress Armida falls in love with Rinaldo and spares him. Rinaldo destroys the myrrh tree, source of her powers and abandons her.

Odio, furor, dispetto,
Dolor, rimorso e sdegno.
Vengon nel punto estremo,
Tutti squarciami il petto…
Ardo, deliro, e fremo,
Ho cento smanie al cor.

Hatred, rage, spite, pain,
Remorse and disdain.
Come to the extreme point,
All ripping my chest…
I flare, I rave, and shudder,
A hundred cravings in my heart.

Haine, fureur, dépit, douleur,
Remords et indignation.
Ils arrivent au point extrême,
Tous me déchirent la poitrine…
Je brûle, je délire et je frissonne,
J’ai cent envies dans mon cœur.

16. ALCINA: betrayed I Haendel & Broschi, Alcina (1735), « Ah mio cor »

The sorceress Alcina keeps bewitched men on her island, including Ruggiero. Freed from Alcina’s charms by his fiancée, he breaks the urn of her powers. Alcina is defeated, and her magical palace crumbles.

Ah! Mio cor, schernito sei!
Stelle! Dei ! Nume d’amore!
Traditore, t’amo tanto!
Puoi lasciarmi sola in pianto?
Oh dei, perché?

Ah! My heart, you are taunted!
Stars! Gods! Numen of Love!
Traitor, I love you so much!
Can you leave me alone in tears?
Oh Gods, why?

Ah ! Mon coeur, on se joue de toi !
Etoiles ! Dieux ! Divinités d’amour !
Traître, je t’aime tant !
Puis tu me laisses seule, en pleurs ?
Oh dieux, pourquoi ?

17. ANNA: suicide I Rossini & Della Valle, Maometto II (1820), « Giusto Ciel »

Anna is the daughter of the Governor at war with Maometto II. Her father wants her to marry Calbo, but she loves Uberto, who is in fact Maometto. Duped, she agrees to marry Calbo, but Maometto stalks her and she stabs herself.

Giusto ciel, in tal periglio
Più consiglio, più speranza
Non m’avanza, che piangendo,
Che gemendo, implorar la tua pietà.

Righteous heavens, in such peril
No more counsel, no more hope
I come to you, weeping and begging,
Imploring your mercy.

Juste Ciel, face à un tel périple
Plus de conseil, plus d’espoir
Je ne m’avance qu’en pleurant,
Qu’en gémissant, implorant ta pitié.

18. SALOME: crushed I Strauss, Wilde & Lachmann, Salomé (1905), « Salomes Tanz »

Salome confesses her desire to Jochanaan, who rejects her. She asks for his head to Herod, who has sworn to fulfill her wish if she danced for him. When she kisses the decapitated head, Herod orders the guards to crush her.

19. MANON: exhausted I Massenet & Meilhac, Manon (1884), « Adieu notre petite table »

Sent to the convent, Manon falls in love with Des Grieux, and they flee to Paris. However, eager for luxury and lust, she is sentenced to be deported for prostitution, and dies of exhaustion on the way.

Je ne suis que faiblesse et fragilité ! Ah, malgré moi,
Je sens couler mes larmes devant ces rêves effacés.
L’avenir aura-t-il les charmes de ces beaux jours déjà passés ?
Adieu, notre petite table, qui nous réunit si souvent !
Adieu, notre petite table, si grande pour nous cependant !
On tient, c’est inimaginable, si peu de place, en se serrant.
Adieu, notre petite table… Un même verre était le nôtre,
Chacun de nous quand il buvait y cherchait les lèvres de l’autre.
Ah ! Pauvre ami, comme il m’aimait…

I am only weakness and fragility… In spite of myself,
I’m weeping for these broken dreams.
Will tomorrow be as charming as the beautiful days?
Farewell, our little table, where we so often sat!
Farewell, our little table, yet too big for us!
It’s incredible the small space we take when huddling.
Farewell, our little table! We shared the same glass,
Looking for each other’s lips when drinking.
Ah! Poor friend, how he loved me…

20. VIOLETTA: sick I Verdi & Piave, La Traviata (1853), « Addio del passato »

The courtesan Violetta is seduced by Alfredo for whom she leaves her misguided life and sells all her possessions. Fearing the scandal, Alfredo’s father begs her to quit his son. She accepts, and dies of tuberculosis.

Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti,
Le rose del volto già sono pallenti.
L’amore d’Alfredo perfino mi manca,
Conforto, sostegno, dell’anima stanca.
Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio,
A lei, deh, perdona, tu accoglila,
O Dio! Ah! Tutto, tutto fini!
Le gioie, i dolori tra poco avran fine,
La tomba ai mortali di tutto e confine,
Non lagrima o fiore avra la mia fossa.
Non croce col nome
Che copra quest’ossa.
Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio,
A lei, deh, perdona, tu accoglila,
O Dio! Ah! Tutto, tutto fini!

Farewell, sweet dreams of the past,
The rose of my cheeks has faded.
So much as the love of Alfredo I miss,
Comfort, support of a drained soul.
Ah! smile to the wish of the Traviata,
Forgive her, embrace her,
My Lord! Ah! All has come to an end!
The joys and sorrows soon will end,
The tomb is the limit for us mortals,
No tear or flower on my grave.
No cross with a name
To cover these bones.
Ah! smile to the wish of the Traviata,

Forgive her, embrace her,
My Lord! Ah! All has come to an end!

Adieu, joyeux rêves du passé,
Le rose de mes joues a déjà pâli.
L’amour d’Alfredo me manque,
Réconfort, soutien de l’âme fatiguée.
Ah, souris au désir de la dévoyée,
Pardonne-lui et accueille-la,
O Dieu ! Ah ! Tout, tout est fini !
Joies et peines finiront sous peu,
La tombe est la fin de tout mortel,
Ni larmes ni fleurs sur ma tombe.
Aucune croix avec mon nom
Ne couvrira mes os.
Ah, souris au désir de la dévoyée,
Pardonne-lui et accueille-la,
O Dieu ! Ah ! Tout, tout est fini !

21. NORMA: burnt alive I Bellini & Romani, Norma (1831), « Deh non volerli vittime »

The priestess Norma has broken her chastity vows and had children with Pollione. She discovers that he loves Adalgisa and threatens to denounce them but finally confesses her own fault, and is condemned to the stake.

Deh! Non volerli vittime
Del mio fatale errore!
Deh! Non troncar sul fiore
Quell’innocente età!
Pensa che son tuo sangue…
Abbi di lor pietade!
Ah ! Padre, abbi di lor pietà…

Prithee! Do not let them be victims
Of my fatal mistake!
Prithee! Do not crush in its prime
That innocent age!
Remember they are your own blood…
Have mercy on them!
Ah! Father, have mercy on them…

De grâce ! N’en fais pas des victimes
De mon erreur fatale !
De grâce ! Ne brise pas dans sa fleur
Cet âge innocent !
Pense qu’ils sont de ton propre sang…
Aie pitié d’eux !
Ah père ! Aie pitié d’eux…

22. DALILA: crushed I Saint-Saëns & Lemaire, Samson et Dalila (1877), Prelude

Prisoners, the Hebrews flee thanks to Samson. The priest of Dagon calls upon Dalila to steal the secret of his strength. Sent to prison, Samson is touched by faith, and causes the temple to collapse on Dalila and her people.

23. MARIE: shot dead I Weill, Deval & Fernay, Marie Galante (1933), « Youkali »

Marie is forcibly taken from Bordeaux to Panama as a sex worker. Exiled, she dreams of a return to her country but gets embroiled in shady affairs, and ends up dead of a gunshot.

C’est presque au bout du monde, ma barque vagabonde,
Errant au gré de l’onde, m’y conduisit un jour.
L’île est toute petite, mais la fée qui l’habite
Gentiment nous invite à en faire le tour.
Youkali, c’est le pays de nos désirs,
Youkali, c’est le bonheur, c’est le plaisir,
Youkali, c’est la terre où l’on quitte tous les soucis,
C’est, dans notre nuit, comme une éclaircie,
L’étoile qu’on suit, c’est Youkali.
Et la vie nous entraîne, lassante, quotidienne,
Mais la pauvre âme humaine cherchant partout l’oubli,
A, pour quitter la terre, su trouver le mystère
Où nos rêves se terrent en quelques Youkalis.
Youkali, c’est le pays de nos désirs,

Youkali, c’est le bonheur, c’est le plaisir,
Youkali, c’est la terre où l’on quitte tous les soucis,
C’est, dans notre nuit, comme une éclaircie,
L’étoile qu’on suit, c’est Youkali.
Youkali, c’est le respect de tous les voeux échangés,
Youkali, c’est le pays des beaux amours partagés,
C’est l’espérance qui est au coeur de tous les humains,
La délivrance que nous attendons tous pour demain.
Mais c’est un rêve, une folie, il n’y a pas de Youkali !

It’s near the end of the world, my vagabond ship,
Drifting with the waves, led me there one day.
The island is so tiny, but the Fairy who lives there
Gently invites us to take a stroll around it.
Youkali, it’s the land of our desires,
Youkali, it’s happiness, it’s pleasure,
Youkali, it’s a land where you leave all worries behind,
It is like a light in our night, a star shining bright,
It’s Youkali.
And life goes on, tedious routine,
But the poor human soul, seeking to forget,
And to quit the earth, has solved the mystery
Where our dreams hide in some Youkali.
Youkali, it’s the land of our desires,

Youkali, it’s happiness, it’s pleasure,
Youkali, it’s a land where you leave all worries behind,
It is like a light in our night, a star shining bright,
It’s Youkali.
Youkali, it’s the respect of all exchanged vows,
Youkali, it’s the land of beautiful shared loves,
It is hope at the heart of all the humans,
The relief we all await for tomorrow.
But this is a dream, a fantasy, there is no Youkali!

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