L’Île du rêve
L’Île du rêve condenses into an hour of music all the charms of French Romantic opera. The youthful Reynaldo Hahn – just seventeen at the time – reveals colouristic talents inherited from Bizet, a prosodic originality anticipating Debussy, and above all the passionate outpourings he learnt from his teacher Jules Massenet. On reading through the score of L’Île du rêve, Massenet told Hahn: ‘To have written that, you must be a poet.’ The plot recounts a French naval officer’s love affair with a young Polynesian girl he is forced to abandon. This subject – also treated musically by Puccini (Madama Butterfly) and Delibes (Lakmé) – is approached in an almost Symbolist style: the Romanticism of the music contrasts with a contemplative, introspective treatment of the narration.
Recorded at the Prinzregententheater, Munich (Germany), on 24 and 26 January 2020.
Contents of the book
A deserted island
Vincent Giroud, A Polynesian idyll in the time of Gauguin
Léon Parsons, An interview with Reynaldo Hahn
Arthur Pougin, The evening of the premiere
In the composer’s workshop: correspondence between Hahn and his friend Édouard Risler