Home > Carmen
First performed March 3, 1875.
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy (in French),
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 ‘Habanera’ and, she fascinates the young men there. But, only a soldier of the guard, Don Jose isn’t 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.
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 can’t help himself to join the smugglers with her.
Carmen’s group members are smugglers. Jose later regrets his choice. Carmen is already in love another man, Escamillo who is a bullfighter.
Then, Jose’s 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 Carmen’s 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.
|“Carmen” is one of the most famous operas in the world. But, for Georges
Bizet who composed this opera, “Carmen” is his only hit opera. Bizet
was successful through his own orchestral work, “L'Arlesienne.” 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 Bizet’s friends, Ernest
Guiraud, rearranged Bizet’s opera a little over the three months after Bizet’s 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 “realism” method. Carmen blazed the path to “verismo opera” 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, “Habanera”
sung by title role, Carmen, and other songs. You would never be bored by this
opera, though operas generally are long. “Toreador Song” 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
|Recommended Recordings and Videos
|[CD] Karajan; Berlin Philharmoniker, Choeur de l’Opera 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)
|Gluck, C. W. (1714-1787)
- Orpheus and Eurydice
Mozart, W. A. (1756-1791)
- The Marriage of Figaro
- Don Giovanni
- Cosi fan tutte
- The Magic Flute
Beethoven, L. v. (1770-1827)
Weber, C. M. v. (1786-1826)
- The Magic Bullets
Rossini, G. (1792-1868)
- The Barber of Seville
Donizetti, G. (1797-1848)
- The Elixir of Love
Verdi, G. (1813-1901)
- Il trovatore
- La Traviata
- Un ballo in maschera
- Don Carlo
Wagner, R. (1813-1883)
- The Flying Dutchman
- Tristan und Isolde
- Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg
- The Rhinegold
- Die Walkure
- Twilight of the Gods
Offenbach, J. (1819-1880)
- The Tales of Hoffmann
Strauss, J. (1825-1899)
- Die Fledermaus (The Bat)
Bizet, G. (1838-1875)
Tchaikovsky, P. J. (1840-1893)
- Eugene Onegin
Massenet, J. (1842-1912)
Humperdinck, E. (1854-1921)
- Hansel and Gretel
Puccini, G. (1858-1924)
- La Boheme
- Madama Butterfly
Leoncavallo, R. (1858-1919)
Mascagni, P. (1863-1945)
- Cavalleria Rusticana
Debussy, C. (1862-1918)
- Pelleas et Melisande
Strauss, R. (1864-1949)
- The Cavalier of the Rose
|Copyright (C) 2005-2011 Yusuke Kamiki. All Rights Reserved.