"I Dreamt That I Dwelt In Marble Halls"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One aria in Michael William Balfe's The Bohemian Girl, with a libretto by Alfred Bunn, is known to millions of listeners who have never attended a performance of the opera and who know none of the remaining music in it. The aria is sung in Act II by Count Arnheim's daughter Arline, who was abducted as a child by Devilshoof, a gipsy chieftain, and who has lived with a gipsy band for twelve years. Waking from a deep sleep, Arline reveals a beautiful dream she had to Thaddeus, an exiled Pole who has joined the gipsy band and has fallen in love with Arline. Having saved her from a fierce stag shortly before her abduction, Thaddeus knows her identity, but she herself does not learn it until after her gipsy marriage to her rescuer. The first stanza of the aria reads:

I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls,
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches too great to count–could boast
Of a high ancestral name;
And I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you loved me still the same.