“Le spectre de la rose” from Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights) is both delicate and grand, one of those songs that really sticks with you. The ghost of a rose, plucked and worn by a woman at a ball, appears at her bedside. The rose fills her room with its intoxicating scent, whispering words of love and reassurance. He tells her not to be afraid, and like a prince from a fairytale, he happily accepts his death for just one evening by her side: “My destiny was worthy of envy, and for such a beautiful fate, many would have given their lives.” Somehow, Berlioz manages to convey this passion without schmaltz, but with a dreaminess that could soften the most guarded of stoics.
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