The opera includes the popular Flower Duet for sopranos performed in act 1 by Lakmé, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant Mallika. The opera's most famous aria is the Bell Song in Act 2.
Like other French operas of the period, Lakmé captures the ambience of the Orient seen through Western eyes, which was periodically in vogue during the latter part of the nineteenth century and in line with other operatic works such as Bizet's The Pearl Fishers and Massenet's Le roi de Lahore. The subject of the opera was suggested by Gondinet as a vehicle for the American soprano Marie van Zandt.
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