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The Columbia Jay
(photo credit:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/gallery
composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau (25 September 1683 – 12 September 1764)
librettist: Louis Fuzelier
opéra-ballet: Les Indes galantes – “Forêts paisibles”
performers: William Christie

John James Audubon (26 April 1785 – 27 January 1851)

Jean-Philippe Rameau was very fond of birds.  So the above video blends Rameau’s Forêts paisibles with the art of John James Audubon.  I found the lyrics of Forêts paisibles and a translation of the French lyrics in a blog.  The translation is literal and does do justice to the original French lyrics, but the words match, which is what we need.

Here is the link:


The above site provides a synopsis of Forêts paisibles.  It is part of the fourth and final act or entrée of Les Indes galantes.  In this entrée, a Spaniard and a Frenchman compete for the love of Zima, daughter of a native chief.  She prefers to marry an Amerindian.   Everyone dances and smokes the peace pipe called calumet de la paix

Forêts paisibles

Forêts paisibles
Jamais un vain désir ne trouble ici nos cœurs.
S’ils sont sensibles, (in love)
Fortune, ce n’est pas au prix de tes faveurs.
Dans nos retraites,
Grandeur, ne viens jamais offrir tes faux attraits!
Ciel, tu les as faites
Pour l’innocence et pour la paix.
Jouissons dans nos asiles,
Jouissons des biens tranquilles!
Ah! peut-on être heureux,
Quand on forme d’autres vœux?

Peaceful forests

Peaceful forests
Never (may) a vain desire trouble here our hearts.
If they are sensitive,
Fortune, it is not at the price of your favors.
In our retreats,
Greatness, never come to offer your false attractions!
Heaven, you have made them
For innocence and for peace.
Let’s enjoy our refuges,
Let’s enjoy peaceful things.
Ah! Can one be happy
When one has other wishes?

Le Rappel* des Oiseaux

*birds calling back and forth (rappel is a term used in mountain climbing, but it has had and still has several meanings)
Rameau wrote a lovely Rappel des Oiseaux. YouTube has are several interpretations of the Rappel (Wilhelm Kempff, Sokolov [virtuosic]).  It is played on the harpsichord by Luc Beauséjour.
I have inserted a performance by Emil Grigoryevich Gilels‘s (19 October 1916 – 14 October 1985).
Micheline Walker©
September 29th, 2012