Igor Stravinsky’s “The Nightingale” (1914) and Maurice Ravel’s “L’enfant et les sortilèges” (1925) are 45-minute operas that assert the healing power of nature’s creatures and of song. The only thing better than having one on a program is having both, which is what the Boston Symphony Orchestra under guest conductor Charles Dutoit offered at Symphony Hall Thursday night.
In “The Nightingale,” based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, the title bird enthralls the Chinese emperor before being replaced by a mechanical nightingale that the Japanese emperor gives him. Later, as the Chinese emperor is dying, the nightingale returns and makes death relent by promising to sing every night. It’s a dark tale with a symbolist libretto: the nightingale sings of roses that weep and tears that are stars, and Stravinsky’s music echoes the anxieties of “Le sacre du printemps.”