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29 March 2011

Akhnaten and Nefertiti love duet from the opera Akhnaten by Philip Glass

From the Philip Glass opera Akhnaten.

Glass: Akhnaten

Act II, Scene 2

An orchestral transition prepares the scene, which is devoted entirely to a duet between Akhnaten and Nefertiti.

With the introduction of the solo trombone, the Scribe begins reciting a poem.  The first time we hear the poem it is as if addressed to a god.

With the entrance of the strings, the poem is heard again, this time spoken as an exchange between two lovers.  During the second reading, Akhnaten and Nefertiti appear.  There follows the duet between the two, now alone together.  The vocal text is the same poem sung in Egyptian.

At the end of the duet the music returns to the orchestra alone.  There is a brief pause, then Akhnaten and Nefertiti resume singing while behind them is seen the funeral cortege in a later stage of its journey, this time ascending on wings of large birds to the heavnely land of Ra.

Text:  Recited by the Scribe and sung in Egyptian by Akhnaten and Nefertiti (love poem found in a royal mummy of the Amarna period, from Journal of Egyptian Archeology, tranlsted by Sir Alan Gardiner)

I breathe the sweet breath  (Sesenet neftu nedjem)
Which comes forth from thy mouth.  (Per em rek)
I behold thy beauty every day.  (Peteri nefruk em menet)
It is my desire  (Ta-i nehet sedj emi)
That I may be rejuvenated  (Kheruk nedjem en mehit)
With life through love  (Renpu ha-i em ankh)
Of thee.  (en mertuk)

Give me thy hands, holding thy spirit,  (Di-ek eni awik kher ka-ek)
that I may receive it and may live by it.  (Shesepi su ankhi yemef)
Call thou upon my name unto eternity,  (I ashek reni er heh)
And it shall never fail.  (Ben hehif em rek)

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