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Sabine Devieilhe

Delibes Lakmé

From 02 April TO 15 April 2023
Opernhaus - Zurich

Delibes : Lakmé

  • Conductor
    Alexander Joel
  • Director
  • Performers
    Lakmé: Sabine Devieilhe
    Gerald: Edgardo Rocha
    Nilakanta: Philippe Sly
    Frédéric: Björn Bürger
    Malika: Siena Licht Miller

We can never say it enough, the Opernhaus in Zürich is one of the stages that are most important at international level. The human scale stage has welcomed many of today´s superstars before they established themselves as such. This is where Thomas Hampson and Matthias Goerne got their first international recognition as well as a certain Jonas Kaufmann who was a regular at the Opernhaus in his early days.

  • Venue Info
  • Seating Plan
  • Synopsis

Opernhaus - Zurich Location Falkenstrasse 1 - 8008 Zurich Suisse

  • Venue's Capacity: 1200

The Zurich Opera House is famous the world over for both opera and dance. It is among the most important European theatres and plays host to leading conductors. The original theatre built in 1833 was replaced by the present building which was opened in 1891. It was the venue for the first performance of Parsifal outside Germany.

The history of the Opernhaus has indeed been punctuated by numerous premieres: Turandot by Busoni in 1917, Lulu in 1937, Mathis der Mahler and Cardillac by Hindemith (1938 and 1952) and Moses und Aron by Schönberg in 1957. Several major conductors such as Otto Ackerman, Hans Knappertsbuch, and Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted a varied repertoire always with the greatest singers (Lisa della Casa was for instance a member of the Opernhaus company).

It was at the Studiobühne too that the young singers Gwyneth Jones and Edith Mathis perfected their craft. One of the most outstanding events of its history was the “re-staging” for the first time of the operas of Monteverdi and Mozart performed on period instruments at the instigation of the pioneer Nikolaus Harnoncourt supported by the legendary stage settings of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. These productions contributed to the renaissance of Baroque opera and the rediscovery of a vast repertoire.

Today the Opernhaus is one of the few theatres that can pride itself on presenting the greatest stars of the opera world in one and the same season. With its well-thought out and varied programming, the audience has every reason to be satisfied.


The seating plan is given as an indication and has no contractual value.
The division of categories may differ depending on shows and dates.




A French libretto opera with lyrics by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille and composed by Léo Delibes.
It is known primarily for its duets, but especially in recent times for Flower Duet (in Act 1), which features in several film soundtracks, opera compilations and adverts. Also the powerful Bell Song (in Act 2), a coloratura showpiece and the highlight of this opera. It was premiered by Opéra Comique in 1883 at the Salle Favart, Paris.

It was an immediate success and has been performed over 1500 times since then at the Salle Favart. There are still regular performances there and around the world. This opera follows a popular storyline of the day, relations between eastern and western cultures in the Orient.


Two people from opposing cultures fall into a forbidden love with a tragic ending. Set in the late 19th century when India was under rule from the British. Many Indians are forbidden by the British to openly practise the Hindu religion. It is done secretly in temples, hidden away from sight of the British. Nilakantha is a Brahmin priest who resorts to extreme methods to protect his daughter from a British officer.

Act 1

Lakmé and her servant Mallika are bathing and picking flowers at the river's edge. Her father, Nilakantha, has warned her to stay away from the British. As British officer Gérald trespasses in the flower garden, he takes an interest in the girls' jewellery and the two are drawn towards each other. Her father Nilakantha is not pleased and wants to take revenge.

Act 2

Nilakantha persuades his daughter to sing the alluring Bell Song in the marketplace in the hope that it will attract Gérald. Gérald hears her singing and approaches. Nilakantha stabs and wounds Gérald. The couple run off together into the forest helped by Nilakantha's servant. Gérald recovers from his injury.


Several couples are heard singing in the forest, trying to find a spring with magical properties to make people fall in love. Lakmé goes to find some of this water to bring back to Gérald. Whilst she is away Gérald is reminded of his duty to his country as well as his own fiancée and withdraws his love for her. In despair she bites the toxic datura leaf from a nearby flower bush.


They both drink the magical water and she dies just as her father arrives.


Nilakantha, high priest of the Brahmin temple, bass-baritone
Lakmé, his daughter, soprano
Mallika, her handmaid, mezzo-soprano
Gérald, British officer, tenor
Frédéric, British officer, baritone

Opernhaus Zurich © Dominic Büttner

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