Opera – Gounod
Mireille is a very very old story of the County of Provence.
It is told in the tale of the Santons de Provence and every December, the beautiful Mireille comes back to life in the crib with her whole village, her beautiful Vincent whom she loves so much, and her father who is so miserly that he becomes mad with rage when he learns that she wants to marry this poor devil, this good for nothing.
Mireille is so beloved in the hills of Provence that she found her form in/with ? the pen of the greatest Provencal author, Frederic Mistral.
From there she went on stage – Gounod loved the story of the beautiful Mireille, Gounod and Mistral met each other, worked… a lot & Mireille came to sing her story.
It is not the most famous opera of Gounod.
The best known is Faust.
In this version, there is the traditional story of the Santons, there are of course the additions of Mistral to make the story more gripping, more fleshed out, and what Gounod brought, what he liked particularly: here are witches (the English translation is not correct for the characters in the video: the old woman is not old – she is a witch), trolls, goblins, strange places, games between life and death, a whole fantastic atmosphere which emerges from the hills of Provence, from the houses of Arles the city where the winds run, from white and chalky stones.
& of course now, there is an enemy, a jealous lover, the one who will disrupt the story – the one who will want Mireille’s heart and hand.
He will do anything to succeed. If he has to kill Vincent, he will kill Vincent.
So Mireille is asked to abandon her lover – she would not want to make this man’s life miserable? she would not want to kill him, by insisting on loving him?
Yes, it would be necessary, mademoiselle, to betray Vincent :
It is true that Gounod undoubtedly forced the dose a little by dipping into the fantastic, which falls into the marvellous “dark” – there are passages that we must accept to pretend to believe, yes yes, it is true.
But once one is warned, that there is no will of realism in there and that the idea is to develop to the maximum the theme of the absolute love of Mireille and Vincent, then this fantasy works quite well.
All Mireille with the lyrics subtitled in English – I have not found better – and the staging is well done, well in the spirit of this little country :
Above all, it is such a wonderful trip in the tales of Provence, in the activities of the beautiful ladies of Arles, in the famous farandoles of the Pont d’Avignon, you know, this broken bridge on which we dance, we dance, we dance for a long time.