Ophelie (Ophelia)

Instrumentation/Voicing: 
SATB, strings, harp

On the calm black water where the stars sleep
White Ophelia floats like a great lily . . .

For more than a thousand years sad Ophelia
Has passed, a white phantom, down the long black river;
For more than a thousand years her sweet madness
Has murmured its romance to the evening breeze.

Audio: 

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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
AB-064-00 (manuscript)
Duration: 
7:30
Commissioned By: 
University of Nebraska at Omaha Department of Music and College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media
Premiere
Premiere Date: 
04/29/2011
Premiere Ensemble: 
UNO Chamber Choir
Premiere Conductor: 
Matthew Harden
Text
Text Author or Source: 
Arthur Rimbaud
Language: 
French
Text: 

I.
Sur l'onde calme et noire où dorment les étoiles
La blanche Ophélia flotte comme un grand lys,
Flotte très lentement, couchée en ses longs voiles...
– On entend dans les bois lointains des hallalis.

Voici plus de mille ans que la triste Ophélie
Passe, fantôme blanc, sur le long fleuve noir
Voici plus de mille ans que sa douce folie
Murmure sa romance à la brise du soir

Le vent baise ses seins et déploie en corolle
Ses grands voiles bercés mollement par les eaux ;
Les saules frissonnants pleurent sur son épaule,
Sur son grand front rêveur s'inclinent les roseaux.

Les nénuphars froissés soupirent autour d'elle;
Elle éveille parfois, dans un aune qui dort,
Quelque nid, d'où s'échappe un petit frisson d'aile:
– Un chant mystérieux tombe des astres d'or.

Translation: 

I.
On the calm black water where the stars sleep
White Ophelia floats like a great lily;
Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils . . .
– You hear in the distant woods sounds of the kill.

For more than a thousand years sad Ophelia
Has passed, a white phantom, down the long black river;
For more than a thousand years her sweet madness
Has murmured its romance to the evening breeze.

The wind kisses her breasts and unfolds in a wreath
Her great veils softly cradled by the waters;
The trembling willows weep on her shoulder,
Over her wide dreaming brow the reeds bend down.

The ruffled water lilies sigh around her;
At times she awakens, in a sleeping alder,
Some nest, from which escapes a slight rustle of wings;
– A mysterious song falls from the golden stars.

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(trans. Wallace Fowlie, modified and corrected by Seth Whidden)