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The online guide to Massenet’s Aria AH FUYEZ DOUCE IMAGES

Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “AH FUYEZ DOUCE IMAGES”.


If you want to hear more about the opera Manon, click on the link to the opera portrait


The aria – synopsis and background


Synopsis: In the seminary, Des Grieux has already acquired the reputation of a gifted preacher. He does not let his father dissuade him from dedicating his life to God. But Des Grieux is tormented by pictures from the past, thoughts of Manon, which he tries in vain to scare away in the aria “Je suis seul… ah fuyez douce images”.

It is the second great aria Massenet wrote in Manon for the tenor. Like the Dram aria, this piece is an introspective reflection of his emotional world. It is two years since Manon left him. He is still obsessed. After on bar, Des Grieux says “je suis seul” (I am alone). While he praises his will to serve god (“C’est le moment suprême”; “j’ai voulu mettre Dieu même”) the orchestra plays love music and seems to contradict Des Grieux.

His vision of Manon (“Ah fuyez douce images”) begins tender and pianissimo. Later the music gets more intense, showing the pain that the feelings for Manon still provoke. The middle part plays with Manon’s motifs and he even curses Manon without naming her (“Ce nom maudit”; this damned name). The organ from the church accompanies him he hopes to overcome this obsession. But soon the pains come back and he ends this great aria with a beautiful diminuendo.



The Aria – the text of Ah fuyez douce images


Je suis seul! Seul enfin!
C’est le moment suprême!
Il n’est plus rien que j’aime
Que le repos sacré que m’apporte la foi!
Oui, j’ai voulu mettre
Dieu même
Entre le monde et moi!

Ah! fuyez, douce image, à mon âme trop chère;
Respectez un repos cruellement gagné,
Et songez, si j’ai bu dans une coupe amère,
Que mon coeur l’emplirait de ce qu’il a saigné!
Ah! fuyez! fuyez! loin de moi!
Ah! fuyez!
Que m’importe la vie et ce semblant de gloire?
Je ne veux que chasser du fond de ma mémoire…
Un nom maudit! ce nom… qui m’obsède et pourquoi?

J’y vais!
Mon Dieu!
De votre flamme
Purifiez mon âme…
Et dissipez à sa lueur
L’ombre qui passe encor dans le fond de mon coeur!
Ah! fuyez, douce image, à mon âme trop chère!
Ah! fuyez! fuyez! loin de moi!
Ah! fuyez! loin de moi! loin de moi!



I am alone! Alone at last!
This is the supreme moment!
There is nothing more that I love
Than the sacred rest that faith brings me!
Yes, I wanted to put
God himself
Between the world and me!

Ah! flee, sweet image, to my too dear soul;
Respect a cruelly won rest,
And think, if I drank from a bitter cup,
That my heart would fill it with what it has bled!
Ah, flee! flee! away from me!
Ah, flee!
What do I care for life and this semblance of glory?
I only want to chase from the bottom of my memory…
A cursed name! this name… which obsesses me and why?

I go there!
My God!
With your flame
Purify my soul…
And dispel by its light
The shadow that still passes in the depths of my heart!
Ah, flee, sweet image, to my soul too dear!
Ah, flee! flee! away from me!
Ah, flee! away from me! away from me!




Written for a lyric tenor


The role of Des Grieux is written for a lyric tenor. The lyric tenor has a soft, melting voice. The voice must be rich and agile in melodic creation. He can reach the high notes with ease and create a beautiful sound. The lyrical tenor must be able to sing both intimate pieces and more exciting pieces convincingly.




Famous interpretations of  AH FUYEZ DOUCE IMAGES


We hear four great recordings of this soul painting.

We start with Nicolai Gedda (1925-1987). He was above all, a tenor highly appreciated by connoisseurs. He was not a tenor with a strong an penetrating voice, but he excelled with his vocal artistry and the voice’s extraordinary range. For example, he was the first choice for the extremely high tenor role of Arnoldo in Rossini’s William Tell.

Let’s hear this aria from Gedda. Kesting comments: “He always succeeds in combining vocal elegance with absolute credibility, as in the monastic scene: he creates the recitative as a monologue of a confused young man who flees from his fatal love to the monastery. In the aria Des Grieux (and with him the listener) is overwhelmed by the feelings for Manon, in the parlando middle section Gedda defeats himself once more, while organ chords sound – only to be carried away again with masterfully designed crescendo.”

Je suis seul… ah fuyez douce images (1)  –  Gedda


The next recording is by Jonas Kaufmann. It comes from his CD from 2007 (Romantic Arias), which has received excellent reviews. The greatest praise (which was quoted again and again) came from the highly respected critic John Steane in the magazine Gramophon, who saw Jonas Kaufmann as the candidate for the future top tenor . Especially the Manon excerpts stood out.

Also the French experts were full of praise, the excellent French diction of the German was noted appreciatively.

Je suis seul… ah fuyez douce images (2)  –  Kaufmann


Next we hear again Jussi Björling in another captivating interpretation.

Je suis seul… ah fuyez douce images (3)  –  Björling


Finally, I would like to add Tito Schipa to the playlist. Des Grieux was one of his favourite roles. As always, Schipa captivates with his elegant voice, which expresses pain unparallelled by other singer. Listen to a recording from the thirties.

Je suis seul… ah fuyez douce images (4)  –  Schipa


Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to Ah fuyez douce images from the opera Manon



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