Flower Duet Lyrics and Text Translation

"Sous le dôme épais" Aria from Lakme

Leanne Kenneally performs during Leo Delibes' 'Lakme' dress rehearsal at the Opera Theatre of the Sydney Opera House.
Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Composed by Leo Delibes, "Sous le dôme épais" is sung by Lakme and Mallika in the first act of the opera, Lakme. Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille wrote the libretto. The opera premiered on April 14, 1883, in Paris's historic Opéra-Comique Theatre. According to Operabase, a company that compiles large amounts of data from opera companies around the world, Delibes' opera, Lakme, was the 164th most performed opera in the world during the 2014/15 season.

Both the role of Lakme and Mallika are sung by sopranos. Notable sopranos to perform these roles include Dame Joan Sutherland, Natalie Dessay, Anna Netrebko, Beverly Sills, Sumi Jo, Huguette Tourangeau, and Marilyn Horne.

Listen to Dame Joan Sutherland and Huguette Tourangeau perform the Flower Duet (watch on YouTube).

Context of the Flower Duet

The Brahmin high priest, Nilakantha, has been forbidden to practice his religion when British forces arrive in the city. Secretly, he leads a group of people back the temple to worship. Nilakantha's daughter, Lakme, stays behind with her servant, Mallika, gathering flowers to prepare for a bath in the river. As they remove their jewels and clothing, the women sing their Flower Duet, describing the white jasmine, roses, and other flowers that adorn the riverbanks.

As the two women disappear into the river, two British officers, Gerald and Frederic, and their girlfriends are having a picnic and stroll alongside the riverbank.

The two women spot the extravagant and shimmering jewelry and tell the two officers that they must own something similar, giving one of the men the task of drawing a copy. Frederic and the two women continue walking while Gerald stays behind to finish his drawing. When he sees Lakme and Mallika returning to the riverbank, he quickly hides.

The two women get dressed and Mallika departs for the temple leaving Lakme alone. As she looks out across the river, she sees Gerald hiding nearby. Startled, she screams at first, but when they meet face to face, they immediately are attracted to each other. When she hears help approaching, she sends Gerald away hoping to meet him again.

To learn how the story of Lakme unfolds, read the Lakme synopsis.

French Lyrics of the Flower Duet

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin
À la rose s’assemble
Sur la rive en fleurs,
Riant au matin
Viens, descendons ensemble.

Doucement glissons de son flot charmant
Suivons le courant fuyant
Dans l’onde frémissante
D’une main nonchalante
Viens, gagnons le bord,
Où la source dort et
L’oiseau, l’oiseau chante.

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin,
Ah! descendons
Ensemble!

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin
À la rose s’assemble
Sur la rive en fleurs,
Riant au matin
Viens, descendons ensemble.

Doucement glissons de son flot charmant
Suivons le courant fuyant
Dans l’onde frémissante
D’une main nonchalante
Viens, gagnons le bord,
Où la source dort et
L’oiseau, l’oiseau chante.

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin,
Ah! descendons
Ensemble!

English Translation of the Flower Duet

Under the thick dome where the white jasmine
With the roses entwined together
On the river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning
Let us descend together!

Gently floating on its charming risings,
On the river’s current
On the shining waves,
One hand reaches,
Reaches for the bank,
Where the spring sleeps,
And the bird, the bird sings.

Under the thick dome where the white jasmine
Ah! calling us
Together!

Under the thick dome where white jasmine
With the roses entwined together
On the river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning
Let us descend together!

Gently floating on its charming risings,
On the river’s current
On the shining waves,
One hand reaches,
Reaches for the bank,
Where the spring sleeps,
And the bird, the bird sings.

Under the thick dome where the white jasmine
Ah! calling us
Together!