Carmen

Romantic opera from 1874

Georges Bizet
Composer
Fromental Halévy
Librettist
Henri Meilhac
Librettist

Description

Carmen (French pronunciation: ​[kaʁmɛn]; Spanish: [ˈkarmen]) is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences. Bizet died suddenly after the 33rd performance, unaware that the work would achieve international acclaim within the following ten years. Carmen has since become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon; the "Habanera" from act 1 and the "Toreador Song" from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias.

The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.

After the premiere, most reviews were critical, and the French public was generally indifferent. Carmen initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired popularity at home and abroad. Later commentators have asserted that Carmen forms the bridge between the tradition of opéra comique and the realism or verismo that characterised late 19th-century Italian opera.

The music of Carmen has since been widely acclaimed for brilliance of melody, harmony, atmosphere, and orchestration, and for the skill with which Bizet musically represented the emotions and suffering of his characters. After the composer's death, the score was subject to significant amendment, including the introduction of recitative in place of the original dialogue; there is no standard edition of the opera, and different views exist as to what versions best express Bizet's intentions. The opera has been recorded many times since the first acoustical recording in 1908, and the story has been the subject of many screen and stage adaptations.

Year 1874
Opening Night 1875
Time Period Romantic
Instrumentation Opera orchestra, Opera chorus, Soli

Scores

Carmen : partition chant et piano / Georges Bizet
Choudens père et fils (Paris) 1875
Bizet, et al.
Carmen : fantaisie-marche pour piano : op. 32 / par Paul Beck ; [d'après l']opéra de Georges Bizet
Choudens père et fils (Paris) A. Simon [diff.] (Hannover) 1881
Beck, et al.
Carmen: Opéra comique in four acts
Ernst Eulenburg & Co. GmbH 1992
Bizet, et al.
Toreador Song, from "Carmen"
Cimarron Music Press 1874
Bizet, et al.
Themes from Carmen
Chester Music 1874
Barratt, et al.
Carmen (Vocal Score)
Novello & Company 1874
Bizet, et al.
Magic Night (Carmen)
Edwin Ashdown 1874
Bizet, et al.
March of the Boy Soldiers, from 'Carmen'
Edwin Ashdown 1874
Bizet, et al.
On the top of the Hill (Carmen)
Edwin Ashdown 1874
Bizet, et al.
Choral Fantasia on "Carmen"
J. Curwen & Sons 1874
Bizet, et al.
Choral Fantasia on 'Carmen' (Tonic Sol-fa)
J. Curwen & Sons 1874
Bizet, et al.
Two Airs from "Carmen"
Edwin Ashdown 1874
Bizet, et al.

Videos

Carmen
An exhilarating new Carmen from Glyndebourne. Director David McVicar describes Carmen as "the first ever ...
Carmen
The libretto, by Henri Meilac and Ludovic Halévy, is based on a novella by Prosper ...
Bizet: Carmen: Près des remparts de Séville
This is a performance of Près des remparts de Séville from Bizet's Carmen.
Bizet: Carmen, La fleur que tu m'avais jetée
This is a performance of "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée" from Bizet's Carmen.
Bizet: Carmen
This is a performance of selections from Bizet's Carmen.
Carmen: The Dream and the Destiny
This documentary, by Christopher Nupen, is the about the creation of Regina Resnik's production of ...
Prelude from 'Carmen'
This is a performance of Prelude from 'Carmen', Op. 126, No. 5, performed by Leipzig ...
Carmen - Domingo, Berganza, Raimondi, Ricciarelli 1980 (multisubs)
Carmen: Teresa Berganza Don josé: Plácido Domingo Escamillo: Ruggero Raimodi Micaela: Katia Ricciarelli Conductor: Pierre ...
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Albums

111 More Classic Tracks (CD 1-3)
Deutsche Grammophon
The Plácido Domingo Story
Deutsche Grammophon
The Yellow Guide To Classical Music
Deutsche Grammophon
Habanera from Carmen
Deutsche Grammophon
Habanera
Deutsche Grammophon
The Great British Tradition
Chandos
We Love A Parade
Chandos
The Don Lusher Big Band
Chandos
Carmen
Chandos
Trumpet Spectacular
Telarc
The Era of Adelina Patti
Nimbus
Enrico Caruso: Opera Volume 3
Nimbus
Prima Voce Sampler
Nimbus
Encore
Eduardo Gonzalez
Yurij Vedeneev: Mister X to Unmask
JSC "Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga Musica"