Saturday, 14 February 2015

Romantic Duets for Valentine's Day

Romantic duets are one of the basic ingredients in the musical genre – which is why they have to be really good in order to stand out from the mass. A simple, dull "I love you", "I love you too" will not do. The best lovers' duets express joy and affection, and occasionally the hardships of love, without resorting to sappy lyrics riddled with clichés.

So, what else should a musical-loving blogger do on a Valentine's Day than list her Top Ten romantic musical duets? I know, right!

10. 'We Kiss in the Shadow'  
The King and I
Tuptim and Lun Tha
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Tuptim and Lun Tha have to meet in secret because Tuptim is a concubine of the King of Siam. The agony of forbidden love ensues. The lyrics aren't as memorable as some of the others on this list, but I do like the melody.

9. 'Sixteen Going On Seventeen'
The Sound of Music
Liesl and Rolf
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Alright, so this song is maybe a tiny bit depressing in hindsight, knowing what Rolf decides to do with his life in the end. I think for me, most of the appeal is in the specific performance by Charmian Carr and Daniel Truhitte in the film version (which I've linked above) rather than in the song itself, which frankly doesn't have an awful lot to say. I just love Liesl's dress and the dance in the gazebo.

8. 'A Heart Full of Love'
Les Misérables
Marius and Cosette
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer

I adore every bit of music that Claude-Michel Schönberg has ever composed, but even considering we're in the realm of theatre where the rules of credibility are frequently experimented with, I find myself shaking my head at Marius and Cosette who vow eternal love after literally just bumping to each other on the street for a couple of seconds.

7. 'As Long As You're Mine'
Elphaba and Fiyero
Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Rather than a promise of eternity, Elphaba and Fiyero go for "just for this moment". I love the intro to this song, it enticingly foreshadows the passion for life and the slightly fatalistic tone of the rest of the tune.

6. 'Mountain Duet'
Florence and Anatoly
Music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus
Lyrics by Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus

Once again we get a bit of a different angle to the traditional "love duet" because this is set in a reluctant, awkward meeting between Anatoly the Russian chess player and Florence, the assistant to his American opponent. It begins with the characters wondering what the heck they are supposed to be doing here, and then Anatoly goes "Listen, I hate to break up the mood..." And the mood really gets going from there!

5. 'I'll Cover You'
Angel and Collins
Lyrics and music by Jonathan Larson

I'm sure I've already gushed about the earnestness of Angel and Collins, the absolute joy that this song expresses, and Angel's overall awesomeness as a character. Lyrics, melody, mood, characters, I just adore the whole package.

4. 'One Hand, One Heart'
West Side Story
Tony and Maria
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

This is on a much more solemn side. So why am I pointing the finger at Marius and Cosette's sudden confessions of love but ranked Maria and Tony practically rehearsing their wedding on fourth place? Well, I think West Side Story devotes a bit more more time and explanation to the main couple's character histories and setting up the premise that their lives are lacking fulfillment which they try to patch up with an admittedly hasty commitment. The tune overall has a beautiful simplicity to it. If I ever happen to get married, I want this song at my wedding.

3. 'Come What May'
Moulin Rouge!
Christian and Satine
Music and lyrics by David Baerwald

What power there is in three short words, 'Come what may'. I never get bored of this song! Once again, the tactic of starting soft and quiet and building up to a massive power blend of two voices works wonders.

2. 'Last Night of the World'
Miss Saigon
Kim and Chris
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby Jr.

Claude-Michel Schönberg does it again, there's something about this melody that makes me obsess over it. The world around Kim and Chris is dark and dangerous, but they have this lovely song. And the solo saxophone.

1. 'All I Ask Of You'
The Phantom of the Opera
Raoul and Christine
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe

There never was any debate in my mind as to which duet should be the top of the list. Out of the overall amazing score in The Phantom of the Opera, this song has always been my favourite (though Past the Point of No Return and The Music of the Night aren't far behind). As a rule, I turn into an emotional wreck as soon as 'Anywhere you go, let me go too' comes out. I'm also eternally thankful to whoever oversaw the casting of the 25th Anniversary performance because they gave us the chance to hear Sierra Boggess and Hadley Fraser sing this song to perfection. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent list! I love #s 1, 3, 4, 9, and 10, and 8 is great as long as you don't think about the fact that they are doing the ridiculous "love at first sight" thing :-)