Monday, December 29, 2008

As a New Year Dawns, Remembrance of Things Past

In 1987 the film Aria was released, and it has stayed with me ever since. Ten film directors (including Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford, Jean-Luc Godard, Derek Jarman, Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, and Julian Temple) took ten pieces of opera and set them to music, like a series of music videos. The results were as varied as the styles and approaches of the interpretations. I believe a new DVD was just released this year.

There is much to be said for most of it. The segement that infiltrated my imagination again this morning was "Depuis le jour" from Charpentier's Louise, directed by Derek Jarman, with a very young and radiant Tilda Swinton as the young woman and Leontyne Price singing. It's beautifully filmed, with a framing device of a lovely, striking old lady taking curtain calls, and remembering as she does, an early love - her first, if you take the words of the aria literally. It's magical the way the sparkles on her fan dissolve into the sparkles on the water. Is she an actress or is this curtain call an allegory for death? I like the latter idea. What a way to go that would be. Here's a rough copy of the video. Thanks YouTube and francescaxx!


Depuis le jour
(Music and libretto by Gustave Charpentier)

Depuis le jour où je me suis donnée,
toute fleurie semble ma destinée.
Je crois rêver sous un ciel de féerie,
l'âme encore grisée
de ton premier baiser!

Quelle belle vie!
Mon rêve n'était pas un rêve!
Ah! je suis heureuse!

L'amour étend sur moi ses ailes!
Au jardin de mon coeur
chante une joie nouvelle!
Tout vibre,
tout se réjouit de mon triomphe!
Autour de moi tout est sourire,
lumiére et joie!

Et je tremble délicieusement
Au souvenir charmant
Du premier jour
D'amour!

Quelle belle vie!
Ah! je suis heureuse! trop heureuse...

Et je tremble délicieusement
Au souvenir charmant
Du premier jour
D'amour!

Since the day I gave myself,
my fate seems all in flower.
I seem to be dreaming beneath a fairy sky,
my soul still enraptured
by that very first kiss!

What a wonderful life!
My dream was not a dream!
Oh! I am so happy!


Love spreads its wings over me!
In the garden of my heart
a new joy sings!
Everything resonates,
everything rejoices in my triumph!
About me all is smiles,
light and happiness!

And I tremble deliciously
at the delightful memory
of the first day
of love!

What a glorious life!
Oh, how happy I am! Too happy!...

And I tremble deliciously
at the delightful memory
of the first day
of love!

(Translation by Stacey Martin)

3 comments:

Lavinia said...

Happy New Year BPG!

willow said...

I must see this! It looks magical. Love Tilda Swinton and opera, of course. Thanks, BPG. :)

Blog Princess G said...

LL: Happy New Year to you!

Willow: It is... I'd love to know what you think of the whole thing.