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'To have written that, you must be a poet', Massenet told Reynaldo Hahn when he read through the score of L'Ile du rêve. Composed when the young man was not yet eighteen years old, this 'curtain-raiser' already had the qualities of the great works of the period. It reveals the coloristic talents of Bizet, the passionate outbursts of Massenet and even the prosodic originality of the young Debussy. The plot recounts a French naval officer's love affair with a young Polynesian girl he has to abandon. This subject- also treated musically by Puccini (Madama Butterfly) and Delibes (Lakme)- is approached in an almost Symbolist style: the Romanticism of the music contrasts with a contemplative, introspective treatment of the narration. This is where the youthful Hahn particularly shines: in the very first bars (the hymn to Bora-Bora), in the various love scenes for Loti and Mahenu (notably the duet 'Restons encore les paupieres mi-closes') and even in the neo-Handelian prelude to Act Two.