O ma lyre immortelle

From: Sapho, 1851
By: Charles Gounod (1818-1893)


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Arrangement: mezzo-soprano solo with piano accompaniment

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  PACKAGE PRICE: $5.00 (print basis) for both this aria and "Nuit resplendissante".

One of many great arias from the 19th century French repertoire which were once fairly standard but have now fallen out of fashion. The text and story are dramatic, in a "diva" sort of way; vocally, the aria requires smooth legato line, mostly in the middle range, but with extensions both high and low. I've included the recitative for those who are interested, but I believe in most contexts it would better to omit it in performance.

Gounod's opera tells a story of the Greek poetess Sappho (spelled "Sapho" in French). Contrary to what one might expect, the object of Sapho's affection is a tenor — Phaon. Through manipulation and deceit, Sapho's soprano rival has turned Phaon against her. One evening at sunset, in despair, Sapho stands at the top of a rocky cliff and contemplates throwing herself into the sea below.

The role of Sapho was written for Pauline Viardot.

Released: December 7, 1998
Latest update: June 22, 2009
Update history:
06/22/09: New address; no other changes.
10/20/06: New address; smartened apostrophes in translation text.
03/05/06: New address; no other changes.
10/16/05: New address; no other changes.
06/10/05: New address; no other changes.
10/18/03: New address; no other changes.
06/18/00: New address; no other changes.

Editorial notes: Minor typographical changes. Slight editing of markings: a few are omitted, a few are translated, one (indicated with brackets) is added; some slurs in piano part are omitted. Two corrections of apparent errors: in bar 14, "vie" is written as two quarters in original; in bar 54, original has "moux" rather than "maux". Punctuation of text revised. English translation added. (See also general editorial notes.)

Source material: Opera Songs, book 2, for mezzo-soprano and alto, John Church Co., 1901. Oakland Public Library, main branch, 784.2 Op2 V.2. Translation on final page by Patricia Kealy; word-for-word translation by Patricia Kealy and Mark D. Lew.

Recordings: I'm told that this is included on a collection of arias sung by Shirley Verrett. I don't know the title of the album. More recently, I'm told it was also recorded by Regine Crespin, but I don't know that title either.

Go back to shareware sheet music page.

June 22, 2009