Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix

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Samson and Delilah
Gerard van Honthorst, 1615

"Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" is a mezzo-soprano aria from Camille Saint-Saëns's opera Samson and Delilah. It is known in English as "Softly awakes my heart", or "My heart opens itself to your voice". It is sung by Delilah in act 2 as she tries to get Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength.[1]

Music[change | change source]

In the opera, Delilah is responding to Samson's words "Dalila! Dalila! Je t'aime!" (Delilah! Delilah! I love you!) which he repeats between the first and second verses of her aria. These interjections are omitted in recital performances or sometimes sung to the changed words "Samson! Samson! Je t'aime!". Samson's part in the final 22 bars of the stage aria where he joins Delilah in a duet is also omitted in a recital, although some performers, notably Marilyn Horne, have sung Samson's final words – changed as above, rising to a high B-flat. A performance takes between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 minutes.

The aria is written in D-flat major. The verse has a time signatures of 3/4 but the refrain ("Ah! réponds") has a time signature of 4/4. The tempo indication is andantino (quarter note=66) for the verse and un poco più lento (a little slower) for the refrain. The vocal range extends from B-flat4 to G-flat5, with a tessitura from E-flat4 to E-flat5.[2]

The instrumentation calls for flute, oboe, clarinet, horns, harp and strings. All instrument lines, except the harp, make intensive use of divisi (cellos play in four divisi). The orchestral accompaniment consists mainly of reiterated notes for the first verse and of falling chromatic lines for the second verse. The refrain is accompanied by ascending broken chords.

The melismatic setting of the lyrics present a particular challenge for the performance of this aria as it requires legato singing over a wide range.

References[change | change source]

  1. Freeman, John W. Synopsis: Samson et Dalila, Metropolitan Opera. Accessed February 16 2009
  2. "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" at The Aria Database

Other websites[change | change source]