Thursday, October 21, 2010

Song of the Week: “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls,” 1843

The Gallery Entrance Hall
Buckingham Palace
The British Monarchy
Though few people remember the 1843 opera The Bohemian Girl by Alfred Bunn and Michael William Balfe, most everyone has heard its most popular aria, “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls.” The song has been recorded multiple times by various artists ranging from Joan Sutherland to Enya and Celtic Woman. “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls” has remained a popular and influential song which has moved people in all walks of life. Writer James Joyce quoted the song in his work, Clay, and filmmaker Martin Scorsese included it in his film The Age of Innocence.

The song was written for the lead character in The Bohemian Girl—Arline—as she recalls her foggy memories of childhood. The theme of the song concerns the value of true love despite material wealth. This theme has contributed to the song’s enduring popularity—though our society changes, our fundamental desires and priorities do not.

In 1962, Dame Joan Sutherland performed the role of Arline in The Bohemian Girl, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. The audio from this performance is included below.


Gian Marco said...

Thanks for this interesting information about a lovely song and a nice remembrance of the great Joan Sutherland. I reminds me that I haven't listened to her tremendous portrayal of Donizetti's Norma in a long while and I'll go do that now.

Joseph said...

I haven't heard that in a long time either. Thanks for reminding me.