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I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

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I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls or The Gipsy Girl's Dream is a popular aria from The Bohemian Girl, an 1843 opera by Michael William Balfe, with lyrics by Alfred Bunn. It is sung in the opera by the character Arline, who is in love with Thaddeus, a Polish nobleman and political exile.[1]

Persistence in popular culture

In addition to its regular performance in the opera, and in cast recordings of the opera, the aria, which was very popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, has been recorded many times by a variety of musicians as a stand-alone song.[2] It has also been parodied.

In recorded music

  • Elizabeth Wheeler recorded the song in 1909.
  • The song was recorded several times during the mid-twentieth century by Dame Joan Sutherland.
  • The song appears in a film version of "The Bohemian Girl" produced in 1936 by Hal Roach that stars Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as the Gypsy foster parents of the Count's daughter; young Arline is played by Darla Hood; adult Arline is played by Jacqueline Wells; the dubbed singing voice is that of Rosina Lawrence.
  • A brief version appears in the 1939 movie, "Naughty But Nice". Gale Page sings an a cappella ditty (Millions of Dreams Ago; Lyrics by Johnny Mercer) to music professor Dick Powell who affirms the original tune and the composer.[3]
  • The song makes a brief appearance in the 1946 film, Dragonwyck.
  • A version is played and sung several times in the 1948 Jeanne Crain / William Holden movie, Apartment for Peggy.
  • The first line of the song is sung and "scatted," in the number, "Swing," from the 1953 Broadway show, "Wonderful Town."
  • The first line is sung, off-screen, by aspiring botanist Seymour, in the 1960 film, "The Little Shop of Horrors."
  • A rather unexpected appearance of the song is in the 1966 Howard Hawks film, "El Dorado", where it is played in the saloon just prior to the climactic gunfight.
  • An ambient, ethereal version was recorded by The Irish singer Enya for her Grammy-winning 1991 album, Shepherd Moons.
  • Enya's version appeared on the soundtrack of the 1993 Martin Scorsese film The Age of Innocence.[4]
  • Sinéad O'Connor recorded a version of the song for the soundtrack of the 1997 Irish film The Butcher Boy.[5]
  • The aria is played and sung by the character Clementina Cavendish (Florence Hoath) in the 1998 film The Governess.
  • In 2006 the Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø recorded a version for her album Into Paradise.
  • Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber has recorded the song on two occasions - with singer Aled Jones on Jones' album Higher; and with harpist Catrin Finch on Lloyd Webber's 2006 album Unexpected Songs.
  • Celtic Woman recorded the piece [date?].

In cinema

  • A 1936 movie, The Bohemian Girl, freely adopted from Balfe's opera, starring (as added characters not in the opera) the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, with Darla Hood (a child star in the Our Gang series) as the young Arline and Julie Bishop (under the stage name of Jacqueline Wells) as the adult Arline, included this song in the soundtrack, dubbed by Rosina Lawrence for Julie Bishop. [6]

In literature

  • Lewis Carroll's parody of the lyrics was published in Lays of Mystery, Imagination and Humour in 1855:[7]
  • Booth Tarkington mentions the opera, though not by name, in The Two Vanrevels, and quotes a line of the aria "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls".
  • Why I Write [8] mentions that, in 1935, after enduring much hardship and disillusionment, he wrote "a little poem" which ended with the stanza:
  • Willa Cather referenced the work in her short story "The Bohemian Girl", which incorporates quotes from some of the arias, including "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls". The plot of the story also has some substantial parallels to the opera.
  • The Bohemian Girl is mentioned in the short stories "Clay" and "Eveline" by James Joyce which are both parts of Dubliners. In "Clay", the character Maria sings some lines from "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls". The aria is quoted again in Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake.
  • The opera is mentioned, and the aria is referred to several times, in the 1944 novel Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, which is set in 1844. The song also appears in the movie version of the book.


  1. ^ Frank Weaver. "Music in the Works of James Joyce". Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  2. ^ James Michael Welsh, Peter Lev (2007), The literature/film reader: issues of adaptation, p. 13 
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Age of Innocence (1993) - Soundtracks
  5. ^ The Butcher Boy (1997) - Soundtracks
  6. ^ IMDB|
  7. ^ Knight letter, Lewis Carroll Society of North America, 1994, p. 21 
  8. ^ George Orwell, Why I Write (1946)

External links

  • Full lyrics and background notes
  • 1909 recording by Elizabeth Wheeler
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