The Flower Duet, known in French as "Sous le dome epais," is one of the most beautiful opera duets your sopranos will ever sing.
In this opera, Lakme, daughter of a priest of India, sings with her maid in a garden.
What are they singing about? Well, apparently about the garden, but there is love in the air...
"Silvery voices"..."bird song"..."liquid notes"...never have these terms seemed so applicable as when listening to sweet voices singing this song well.
To introduce my singers to the Flower Duet, I go to YouTube, find one of the many performances of the Flower Duet (remember it is also called "Sous le dome epais"), and download it ahead of time.
There are many terrific professional renditions, and we look and listen to some of those, but my current favorite is a college recital performance by a couple of lovely young ladies called Melissa and Carolyn. Perhaps the reason I prefer to show their performance to my students is that they seem accessible, like real people.
Originally, the Flower Duet is in the key of B. Too high! At least for young, undeveloped voices. And for early rehearsal work when notes are being learned, it can be nice to sing lower. We're going to be rehearsing it for a long time, so we learn it in the key of G.
The PDF below is just for vocalists (to save paper and ink!) -- go further down the page for piano accompaniment. Here is page 1:
Download this Flower Duet PDF for voices only
Why the key of G? Easier on the accompanist, easier on the voices.
Please be aware that this free opera sheet music is an excerpt from the entire long duet; perhaps a third of the entire piece. (Your singers would be happy to keep singing, but it is likely that their audience would appreciate it more in small doses, if they are like most opera-phobes. Better warm them up to it a little bit at a time.)
IF YOU WANT THE ENTIRE PIECE in the original key (as well as a version transposed into the key of G), go to this page on my site, Lakme Flower Duet sheet music.
The harmony seems overwhelming at first to young girls. Only SEEMS, though. Actually, I think it is the French that is the most daunting hurdle in this piece, for non-French speakers. (Check out this pronunciation help for Lakme.) So we don't deal with it at all until we have the harmony and rhythm well in hand.
This goes against the practice of many teachers of a former generation, who suggested memorizing the lyrics -- after first translating them! -- the very first week. If you know your singers will do that, fine. I don't make my vocalists memorize everything, because I want to cover MORE than just 2 or possibly 3 songs a week.
We start with "La...la-la-la... La... la-la-la..." (Soprano 1). We practice this each week, just as long as it takes to get the harmony. It may sound silly, but even with just the la-las, this piece can bring tears (of appreciation, of course!) to the eyes.
I have arranged an easy and free piano accompaniment for rehearsal, below. Here is a graphic of page 1:
Download Flower Duet with free easy accompaniment in G
This easier accompaniment for Flower Duet works very well for performance, also, if the pianist has trouble with the original version. (I'm not talking about using this accompaniment for college singers, of course... consider your venue.) I believe something simple, well-played, is far preferable to an elaborate but awkward backup. These rolled chords, plus a light doubling of the singers' parts, make a nice accompaniment.
But if you want something a little closer to the original, consider my 5-page arrangement, below; the piano accompaniment adheres more closely to the standard duet version, but is still much easier to play. This version is FOR SALE, for $1.75, in the original key of B, and in the key of G. Here is a graphic of page 1:
Here is a graphic of page 3 of Sous le dome epais, still in the key of G:
This is what page 4 of the duet in G looks like, below:
And here is what page 1 of the shortened Flower Duet looks like in the original key, the key of B:
Get Flower Duet, Key of G, in 5 pages for $1.75, USD at PayPal:
Get Flower Duet, Key of B (the original key), in 5 pages for $1.75, USD, at PayPal:
Some of you are purists who will shake your heads at the notion of changing the key and altering the accompaniment. That's okay. Musicians have always made new arrangements out of the music of other composers. And I'm bringing up young singers who will actually WATCH, LISTEN TO, AND SING OPERA...maybe in small doses at first (thank you, YouTube!), and who perhaps, eventually, will become future audience members and even performers.
I hope you and your singers enjoy this free vocal sheet music!
Remember that the entire 16-page "Flower Duet" in the original key (as well as a version transposed into the key of G), is available at this page on my site, Lakme Flower Duet sheet music.
Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? I'd love to hear it!
Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...
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Transposing the piece down a third
Does lowering the pitches by a third really affect the difficulty of the song significantly? I mean, does changing the high B/G to a G/E make it so much …
Thank you so much for your generosity. I love this piece of music. I have downloaded to it to learn it with my 12 year old daughter- so looking forward …
Thanks for the easy version. It works for singers who need a lower key. I have also played this song with a string orchestra in the key of C. Just as …
Delibes chose the B major for a reason: it's better!
Advocating a key change, simply to make Delibes's superb operatic duet easier to sing, or easier to play is simply a form of dumbing down. It is nothing …
What timing! Thank you! Starting rehearsal on this tomorrow.
Thank you for the free music. I loved the example of this piece. It is so beautiful I will be returning to your site. Love and Peace, Debra
Question About The Flower Duet
Hi there, First of all I purchased the sheet music for this duet and love, love, LOVE it! Thank you so much for having it! I do have a question …
Pronunciation for Flower Duet
Is there any chance you could provide a pronunciation guide to the song? I don't know French, but am planning on teaching this as a duet in the upcoming …
Thank you for the free music scores. Lakme is truly beautiful.
Thanks for the Gorgeous Music!
This is gorgeous music! Thank so much for sharing it with the world for free!!!