September 27, 2009 – Danielle de Niese, soprano; Ken Noda, piano
Although the three songs in this set were composed at different times in Bizet’s life and are based on texts by three different poets, they form a beguiling and unified triptych. A lighthearted spirit pervades the songs, which blend images of love and the natural world. Louis Bouilhet’s poem “Song of April” evokes the beauty of a glistening spring morning as a young woman encourages her beloved to get up and join her in savoring the gorgeous day in progress. Victor Hugo’s “The Ladybug” teasingly presents the image of a bashful 16-year-old boy at a dance party, too shy to summon the courage to kiss the young beauty with a ladybug on her neck. Waltz music accompanies the scene as the disappointed insect finally flies off, reproaching the young man for his reticence. And Édouard Pailleron’s “Tarantella” inspired Bizet to compose a delightfully virtuosic showpiece, again based on themes of love and flight. The airborne butterfly, musically represented by the soprano’s coloratura passagework, conjures the image of her lover’s frivolity and inconstancy.
By Michael Parloff