Leo Delibes  
Leo Delibes
Leo Delibes, in full Clément-Philibert-Léo Delibes (born February 21, 1836, Saint-Germain-du-Val, France—died January 16, 1891, Paris), French opera and ballet composer who was the first to write music of high quality for the ballet. His pioneering symphonic work for the ballet opened up a field for serious composers, and his influence can be traced in the work of Tchaikovsky and others who wrote for the dance. His own music—light, graceful, elegant, with a tendency toward exoticism—reflects the spirit of the Second Empire in France.

Delibes studied at the Paris Conservatoire under the influential opera composer Adolphe Adam and in 1853 became accompanist at the Théâtre-Lyrique. He became accompanist at the Paris Opéra in 1863, professor of composition at the Conservatoire in 1881, and a member of the French Institute in 1884. His first produced works were a series of amusing operettas, parodies, and farces in which Delibes was associated with Jacques Offenbach and other light-opera composers. He collaborated with Ludwig Minkus in the ballet La Source (1866), and its success led to commissions to write his large-scale ballets, Coppélia (1870), based on a story of E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Sylvia (1876), based on a mythological theme. In the meantime, he developed his gifts for opera. The opéra comique Le Roi l’a dit (1873; The King Said So) was followed by the serious operas Jean de Nivelle (1880) and Lakmé (1883), his masterpiece. Known for its coloratura aria “Bell Song,” Lakmé contains “Oriental” scenes illustrated with music of a novel, exotic character. Delibes also wrote church music (he had worked as a church organist) and some picturesque songs, among which “Les Filles de Cadiz” (“The Girls of Cadiz”) suggests the style of Georges Bizet.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Leo Delibes was born in St Germain-du-Val in France. After his father's death in 1838 he was educated by his mother and uncle, learning both to sing and to play the organ. He entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 12 and won a first prize two years later. In 1853, aged 17, he became organist of St Pierre de Chaillot in Paris, and obtained his first professional appointment as an accompanist at the Theatre Lyrique. His duties included playing the piano for rehearsals and conducting some rehearsals to lighten the burden of the principal conductor. He held the post at the Theatre Lyrique for ten years. Although he continued his organist's duties until 1871, he was clearly more drawn to the exciting and changeable life of the theatre.

Delibes's first stage work, Deux sous de charbon, was premiered in 1856 and this was the first of many light operettas that he then produced at the rate of one a year for the next 14 years. It was the second of these, Deux vieilles grades, which first caught the imagination of the theatre-going public. It became an enormous success, praised for its witty presentation, its tuneful melodies, and its general lightness of touch.

Delibes was appointed chorus master at the Pans Opera in 1864, a position presenting many new opportunities and experiences. His last operetta, La source (1869), he wrote jointly with the little-known composer Louis Minkus. Delibes' s contribution conspicuously outshone that of his colleague, and served to consolidate an already flourishing reputation as one of Paris's leading theatre composers.

In 1870 Delibes produced what main-believe to be his finest work, the ballet Coppelia. It was an immediate success and has remained one of the best loved of all classical ballets. The sheer spectacle of the work and the natural grace and vivacity it contains show the composer's natural affinity for the medium.

The following year Delibes left his job at the Opera in order to concentrate more fully on composition. From this point on his output decreased in quantity; at the same time it was generally conceived on a larger scale and is of a more complex nature. In 1877 he completed his second full-length ballet, Sylvia. Based on a mythological subject, Sylvia is full of Delibes's characteristic melodic charm, although it has never achieved the popularity of Coppelia.

In 1881 Delibes was made Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatoire. Two years later, inspired by the vogue for all things oriental, he wrote his most famous opera, Lakme, about the doomed love of an Indian temple-priestess for an English soldier. The exotic and melodic music - including the ever-popular "Flower Duet" sung by Lakme and her friend as they prepare to bathe — is supported by a well-constructed libretto, which ensured a splendid first production at the Opera. The star role (for soprano) allows the performer ample opportunity to show off her accomplishments and the colourful orchestration contributes to a compelling and dramatic work showing stylistic similarity to Carmen, by Delibes's compatriot Bizet.

Above all, Delibes's great gift was for the lightness and humour demanded by the theatre of his time, and the natural spontaneity of his music continues to captivate audiences today.

Julie Brown
 (with piano)
Ou va la Jeune Indoue 

Isabel Liu
Irina Vasileva


The Best of Delibes
1. Prelúdio : "Les Chasseresses"
2. Intermezzo: Valse Lente
3. Pizzicato
4. Cortège De Bacchus

5. "Viens, Malliká": Duo Das Flores (*)
6. "Où Va La Jeune Hindoue": Ária Das Campainhas(**)

7. Gaillarde
8. Pavane
9. Madrigal
10. Passepied

11. Prelúdio E Mazurca
12. Festival Dos Relógios E Dança Das Horas
13. Noturno
14. Música Da Boneca E Valsa
15. Czardas

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

"Lakmé" - Opera by Leo Delibes - Summer Opera Festival "Opera under the Stars"
Delibes: Lakmé - Paris,1971 (Mesplé, Burles, Soyer, dir. Lombard)
Published on Dec 25, 2012
Joyeux Noël 2012.

Mady Mesplé: Lakmé
Charles Burles: Gérald
Roger Soyer: Nilakantha
Danielle Millet: Mallika
Jean-Christophe Benoît: Frédéric
Bernadette Antoine: Ellen
Monique Linval: Rose
Agnès Disney: Mrs Bentson
Joseph Peyron: Hadji
Choeurs et Orchestre du théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique
dir. Alain Lombard
rec. 1971

CALLAS as LAKME' 1955 "Dov'è l'indiana bruna" (Aria dei campanelli)
Maria Callas
Lakmè (Delibes)
Dov'è l'indiana bruna (Où va la jeune Hindoue)

Tullio Serafin 1955

Flower duet - Anna Netrebko & Elina Garanca (Lakmé de Delibes)
Anna Netrebko (soprano).
Elina Garanca (mezzo-soprano).
Baden-Baden Opera Gala 2007.
Duo des fleurs.
The Flower Duet - Leo Delibes
Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin
À la rose s'assemble
Sur la rive en fleurs,
Riant au matin
Viens, descendons ensemble.

Doucement glissons de son flot charmant
Suivons le courant fuyant
Dans l'onde frémissante
D'une main nonchalante
Viens, gagnons le bord,
Où la source dort et
L'oiseau, l'oiseau chante.

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin,
Ah! descendons

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin
À la rose s'assemble
Sur la rive en fleurs,
Riant au matin
Viens, descendons ensemble.

Doucement glissons de son flot charmant
Suivons le courant fuyant
Dans l'onde frémissante
D'une main nonchalante
Viens, gagnons le bord,
Où la source dort et
L'oiseau, l'oiseau chante.

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin,
Ah! descendons

"The Flower Duet" by Charlotte Church, Sian Edwards, John Parricelli, Jeremy Backhouse & Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra

Dame Joan Sutherland & Marilyn Horne - The Flower Duet
Under the dense canopy
Where the white jasmine
Blends with the rose
On the flowering bank
Laughing at the morning
Come, let us drift down together
Let us gently glide along
With the enchanting flow
Of the fleeing current
On the rippling surface
With a lazy hand
Let us reach the shore
Where the source sleeps
And the bird sings
Under the dense canopy
Under the white jasmine
Let us drift down together
Susan Graham & Renée Fleming - Lakmé de Leo Delibes, "Viens, Mallika"
Coppélia versão completa - Royal Ballet, ano 2000
Leanne Benjamin

Carlos Acosta

Dr. Coppelius
Luke Heydon

Coppélia Léo Delibes ballet en deux actes
Grand Ballet Classique de Moscou de N.Kasatkina et V.Vasilev
Chef d'orchestre-Oleg Reshetkin
Orchestre Symphonique Royal du Maroc
Rabat 11.01.2014
Léo Delibes - Coppelia Waltz
Bolshoi Ballet- Coppelia: Waltz of the Hours 2011
Leo Delibes (1836–1891): Messe Brève (Missa Brevis)
Leo Delibes: Messe Breve Gloria
  Classical Music Timeline

Instruments Through the Ages

Classical Music History - Composers and Masterworks