Synopsis by Craig Butler
Léo Delibes' opera concerns Lakmé, the daughter of the Brahmin priest Nilakantha. While her father is away, a group of English visitors steal into their sacred garden, desecrating it with their presence. They make light of what they are doing, and one of them, an officer named Gerald, stays behind to sketch some jewels they found so that he may have them duplicated for his fiancée Ellen. Lakmé discovers the intruder and is outraged, but they soon find themselves falling in love with each other. After Gerald leaves, Nilakantha returns. Realizing that the garden has been violated, he swears revenge. Disguising himself and his daughter on a pretext, they venture into a crowded marketplace and Nilakantha instructs Lakmé to sing. Gerald recognizes her voice and the priest now knows who his enemy is. Lakmé tries to persuade Gerald to go into hiding with her, but Nilakantha stabs him before he can answer. With the help of a servant, Hadji, Lakmé saves Gerald and takes him to a secluded forest. There she tells him of nearby sacred waters that, when drunk, will keep lovers together forever. While she is fetching it, a friend finds Gerald and convinces him that he must give up Lakmé. Returning, Lakmé finds Gerald changed and secretly eats of a poisonous flower. Gerald, however, reaffirms his love and drinks the sacred water, but it is too late, and Lakmé dies in his arms.