Stravinsky: The Song of the Nightingale
The ballet of “The Song of the Nightingale” is based on Andersen’s “The Nightingale”.
The first scene shows the Nightingale singing for the Emperor of China, who is very pleased. In the music, the song is chromatic and swooping, it sounds free and natural, like the song of a bird.
In the second scene, the Emperor of Japan arrives and gives the Chinese Emperor a mechanical nightingale. Everyone in the court is mesmerized by its song and ignores the real nightingale, who flies away. Here the music is short and clear, without the smooth musical runs of the real nightingale.
In time, the mechanical bird breaks and the Chinese Emperor mourns the loss of the real nightingale. Like the saying goes, you never know what you have, until you lose it.
In the final scene, the Emperor, longing for the real nightingale, succumbs to illness and upon facing death, meets the literal figure of Death itself.
The Nightingale appears outside the Emperor’s window and convinces Death to let the Emperor go. The Emperor recovers from his illness as Death flees the palace. However, the Nightingale, still unforgiving of the mechanical bird, leaves once again, never to return.
The music ends quietly as the Emperor, again, mourns the loss of his beloved Nightingale, knowing that he will never see the bird again.
Let us hope that the Emperor has learned his life lesson, never to take anything for granted again.
This, now out of print recording, has been restored by Classical Music Discoveries and is now available at a digital download at ClassicalMusicDiscoveries.store