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Bizet, G. (1838-1875)


Carmen





Composed 1873-1875.
First performed March 3, 1875.
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy (in French),
after Merimee.




A Summary of gCarmenh



Act 1
Around 1820, in Seville, Spain, the most provocative gypsy, Carmen, is of all the girls at a place near a cigarette factory. There are a lot of men and women. She sings eHabaneraf and, she fascinates the young men there. But, only a soldier of the guard, Don Jose isnft interested in her. Carmen provocatively throws a flower to him, and leaves.
The girls who went back to the cigarette factory, cause a quarrel. Carmen is to blame, and she is arrested. However, Carmen seduces the guard, Jose, and runs away.

Act 2
A month later, Jose who was imprisoned for letting Carmen slip away, has just been released, and he goes to meet her at a tavern. With that flower in his hand, He tells her his feelings. Carmen requires Jose not to report for roll call, but to stay with her. Jose is worried. He canft help himself to join the smugglers with her.

Act 3
Carmenfs group members are smugglers. Jose later regrets his choice. Carmen is already in love another man, Escamillo who is a bullfighter.
Then, Josefs childhood friend, Micaela, visits him. She informs him that his mother is seriously ill. Jose decides to go home.
The following month, at the square in front of the bullfight arena, Escamillo who is Carmenfs lover, is welcomed by spectators. He enters the arena. Carmen remains at the square, then, Jose appears. He demands she leave with him, but she refuses to. In rejection to his persistence, Carmen throws away the ring that Jose once gave her. Jose stabs her to death with a dagger, and he is then dumbfounded by his actions.




A Comment on gCarmenh



gCarmenh is one of the most famous operas in the world. But, for Georges Bizet who composed this opera, gCarmenh is his only hit opera. Bizet was successful through his own orchestral work, gL'Arlesienne.h He concentrated his attention on composing this opera.

The world premiere of this opera failed because of trouble with the staff in the theater. After three months, Bizet died suddenly at the age of 37. One of Bizetfs friends, Ernest Guiraud, rearranged Bizetfs opera a little over the  three months after Bizetfs death, and everyone appreciated this version of  the opera.

There are a lot of reasons why Carmen gained popularity. One of them is the fascinating music by Bizet. And, this opera was composed using the grealismh method. Carmen blazed the path to gverismo operah which is a kind of realism opera. This opera is the most important in opera history.

There are a lot of famous melodies in this opera, for example, the famous prelude, gHabanerah sung by title role, Carmen, and other songs. You would never be bored by this opera, though operas generally are long. gToreador Songh sung by Escamillo who is a bullfighter in Act 2 is outstanding, and the Aria sung by Micaela in Act 3 is lyrical and beautiful. Many first time opera-goers would enjoy seeing this opera.





Recommended Recordings and Videos



[CD] Karajan; Berlin Philharmoniker, Choeur de lfOpera de Paris; Baltsa, Carreras, van Dam, Ricciarelli. (1983, Deutsche Grammophon)


[CD] Sinopoli; Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus; Larmore, Moser, Ramey, Gheorghiu. (1996, Teldec)


[DVD] Kleiber; Zeffirelli; Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Choir; Obraztsova, Domingo, Masurok, Buchanan. (1978, TDK)


[DVD] Pappano; Zambello; The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, The Royal Opera Chorus; Antonacci, Kaufmann, d'Arcangelo, Amsellem. (2007, Decca)




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