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On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
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Léo Delibes (1836-1891) was a French composer of ballets, operas, and other works for the stage. He is chiefly remembered for his opera Lakmé, which includes The Flower Duet.
Life and Music
Delibes was a member of the French nationalist school, along with Offenbach, Chabrier, Widor, Canteloube and Massenet.
His father was in the postal service, and his mother, an able musician, the daughter of an opera singer and niece of the organist Edouard Batiste.
Delibes studied music with his mother and uncle.
His big composing break came with his ballet Coppélia, premiered in 1870.
Delibes worked for both Berlioz and Bizet when he was chorus master at Paris's Théâtre Lyrique.
Lakmé, written at a time when exoticism was fashionable, employs oriental colouring.
Did you know?
The Flower Duet was used to great effect in a long-running British Airways advertising campaign.
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Maria João Pires