articles / Classical California Ultimate Playlist

The Many Lives of the “The Flower Duet”


Composer Leo Delibes

We’re celebrating the Classical California Ultimate Playlist with a series of fun and informative blogs about the music you love.

Coming in this year at #75 on your Classical California Ultimate Playlist, is a duet from the exotically-set opera Lakme by the Frenchman Leo Delibes. The action of the opera takes place during the British Raj in India during the late-19th century. The so-called Flower Duet from Act 1 is an exquisite blending of soprano and mezzo-soprano voices in close harmony. The characters singing are Lakme herself (the French version of the name Lakshmi) and her servant Mallika. What are these nice ladies singing about? Well, they’ve gone down to the banks of a river to gather flowers. That’s pretty much it.

The piece is instantly recognizable from the many times it’s been used in TV and film. You may have heard it while watching The Simpsons or Parks and Rec. And at the movies, it shows up all the time on soundtracks including such unlikely films as The Angry Birds Movie and Bad Santa.

Here’s one of my favorite renditions of the Flower Duet with Renee Fleming and Susan Graham:

For whatever reason, The Flower Duet also lends itself to some pretty creative arrangements; what the kids call re-mixes!

Written by:
Dianne Nicolini
Dianne Nicolini
Published on 09.13.2021

MORE LIKE THIS

How the 1812 Overture Became Music for the Fourth of July

How the 1812 Overture Became Music for the Fourth of July

Explore the history of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture's popularity in 4th of July celebrations, its association with fireworks, and its original context in this insightful blog.

Classical California Ultimate Playlist
09/13/2021
A Brief Introduction to the Music of Final Fantasy

A Brief Introduction to the Music of Final Fantasy

Explore the history of Final Fantasy and its iconic music by Nobuo Uematsu. Learn how the franchise's music has become a staple in orchestral concerts and game music events.

Classical California Ultimate Playlist
10/04/2020
Opera’s Ultimate Five-Minute Interlude: The Meditation from “Thais”

Opera’s Ultimate Five-Minute Interlude: The Meditation from “Thais”

Explore the enduring appeal of Jules Massenet's "Meditation from Thaïs", a five-minute interlude that has become a beloved piece in the classical music repertoire.

Classical California Ultimate Playlist
09/13/2022
The Poetic Inspiration Behind Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending”

The Poetic Inspiration Behind Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending”

Explore the inspiration behind Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, a violin piece based on an 1880s British poem. Discover why this music continues to captivate listeners.

Classical California Ultimate Playlist
09/13/2021
Caroline Shaw: Re-Imagining the Potential of the Human Voice

Caroline Shaw: Re-Imagining the Potential of the Human Voice

Celebrating the Classical California Ultimate Playlist, this article highlights the talents of Caroline Shaw, a NYC-based violinist, singer, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer known for her unique vocal compositions.

Classical California Ultimate Playlist
09/13/2021
The Secret Story Behind Tchaikovsky’s Mysterious Celesta in “The Nutcracker”

The Secret Story Behind Tchaikovsky’s Mysterious Celesta in “The Nutcracker”

Explore the history of the celesta, a unique instrument used in Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Harry Potter's theme. Discover how it went from obscurity to symphony staple.

Classical California Ultimate Playlist
12/11/2022