Slippedisc comfort zone (4): Ever since that day

Slippedisc comfort zone (4): Ever since that day


norman lebrecht

April 17, 2021

Possibly my favourite French opera aria, and certainly Gustav Mahler’s. The opera is the ultimate evocation of Paris in lyric theatre.

It’s Charpentier’s grand opera Louise.



  • Greg Bottini says:

    Three lovely performances, although Callas, of course, reigns supreme.

    • Meal says:

      Tastes differ. I myself prefer the voice of Ms Dreißig in this song. Luckily, there are a couple of recordings of the piece so that everybody will find a version which fits to his/her taste.

  • Leo Doherty says:

    I can’t believe I’ve not heard this aria before. Where have I been. Stunning. Thank you for sharing.

  • Volpe says:

    It is THE BEST. Bravo. Particularly the Kathy Battle recording with Margo Garrett. Although with piano, there’s a reason it won the 1992 Grammy, Live from Carnegie Hall recital!

  • Eric says:

    Another exquisite version by an almost forgotten American soprano. Everything she sang was inspired.

  • Norman, you are so right. A masterpiece. I spent last summer listening to everything I could by Charpentier. His student works, and the sequel to “Louise,” “Julien” (which is a disappointment.) I even won 78’s at auction of Charpentier conducting the music of “Louise” for gramophone. I also watched the Abel Gance film of the opera. There is a lot of “Louise” to be heard in the early works, and it echoes throughout “Julien.” Following this aria, Paris itself becomes a vibrant, motivating character of the opera in the guise of the chorus and smaller roles. This is a bold, still modern work in subject, music and Charpentier’s own libretto. It touches on many issues, almost like a Zola novel. (Can you think of another opera that considers the impact of urban sprawl?) “Louise” is an opera with a huge appetite that it self-satisfies.

    • Louis says:

      Yes, Depuis le jour is a neat turn in (the lesser) Charpentier’s roman musical, but it arrives after 300 years of French opera history and seems a bizarre choice for “favorite aria” considering the vast and rich output of Lully, (the great) Charpentier, Rameau, Berlioz, Fauré, Massenet and a dozen others.

  • pastore says:

    Give a listen to Eleanor Steber singing this.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “Possibly my favourite Frenc opera aria”….
    Ya gotta love the Frencs!

  • BRUCEB says:

    Lovely version featuring the young Leontyne Price, starring the young Tilda Swinton and Amy Johnson as her older self:

    And (IMHO) a stunning version with Renée Fleming, conducted by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, from the 1996 25th Anniversary Gala at the MET:

  • AndrewB says:

    A very special aria indeed. An evocation of young love and La Belle Epoque. There are so many fine recordings including the remarkable one by Eleanor Steber.

  • Novagerio says:

    Try Caballé.

    • BRUCEB says:

      I did. Impeccably and beautifully sung, of course… but after awhile, I got the feeling that she was telling the story of a soprano whose floating pianissimo high notes were the stuff of legend, rather than the story of a young woman in love.

  • Pedro says:

    I remember a wonderful production by André Egel at the Bastille in 2007. Delunch, Henschel, Groves and van Dam were the singers and Cambreling the conductor, but the real star for me was the producer.

  • E says:

    Never would I have thought about Mahler in connection with this lovely, but now I will! Thank you, NL, for opening yet another door,
    by posting these.

  • SlippedChat says:

    I had not previous heard, or even heard of, Elsa Dreisig. My misfortune. I’ve listened to that video several times during the course of the day, such is the pleasure of hearing her. What a lovely voice, and lovely stage presence. I will look forward to more good things from this singer. Thank you, Mr. Lebrecht.

  • Diane Valerie says:

    I think this performance also nails the essence of this lovely aria:

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Re: the Mahler link – some guy at University of Washington wrote about the influence of ‘Louise’ on the composition of Mahler VI

  • Edgar Self says:

    Dreisig is a discovery, and all of the others good to hear. I don’t go quite as far back as Nellie Melba or Edith Mason, but think I first heard “Depuis le jour” on a record by Grace Moore. Charpentier is type-cast and could be a French painter were he not a composer.