Les Contes d’Hoffmann: Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour (Barcarolle)

Today, I was surfing around the web, looking for a classical music piece to share. I found a long operatic aria, but it was a bit too over the top for my taste.

I then want back to my old standby for classical music, Deutsche Grammophon. Their YouTube channel is so tidy and organized, and there is a fine selection there. Also, DG often features performance videos of their artists.

“Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour” (also known as the “Barcarolle”) is from The Tales of Hoffmann, the last opera written by the German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880). The opera premiered in 1881, four months after his death.

The Barcarolle’s text, written by French poet Jules Barbier (1825-1901), speaks of the beauty of the night and of love and is sung as a duet between the main character’s love and his poetic muse.

The piece is one of the most famous operatic melodies written. Some may recognize it in the 1997 film Life Is Beautiful. It appears twice: once, in a scene where Guido sees his love, Dora, at the opera; later in the film, he plays it on a record player in the concentration camp, and she hears it in the distance. It’s a memorable moment of romantic love shining through a time of horrible hardship.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča (left) and Russian-Austrian soprano Anna Netrebko (right) performing the duet, accompanied by the Orchestra Prague Philharmonia, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. The video appears on the Deutsche Grammophon official YouTube channel as a promotion for Netrebko’s 2008 album, Souvenirs.

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