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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

¿Qué tal Carmén?

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Related thread: Good recordings of Bizet's Carmen

En français:

One thing I haven't done much is discuss operas on this blog. There's no particular reason, it just happens that's how the cookie crunbles. Today, I thought I would share my faviourite recording of Carmen by Georges Bizet, provide some highlights and propose three works inspired by the opera.

Carmen is not my favourite opera: to me, opera is a display of raw emotion, and it requires (more often than not) that one's own emotions bubble to the surface. Speaking for myself, I don't find the character of Carmen very sympathetic, and you figure she gets what she asked for at the end (harsh as it may seem). Other French operas: Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, or even Gounod's Faust manage to get the waterworks going for me, and are therefore higher in my list of favourites.

This does not mean that I dislike Carmen - quite the contrary. It has great moments, but it simply isn't "Grand Opera".

My favourite recording:

Bizet: Carmen [Recorded 1950]

There's a reason why this is my favourite: it puts Carmen where it belongs: on the stage of the Opera Comique, making it closer to a musical than an opera (we'll get back to that later). The performance isn't "over done", the libretto and book are spoken clearly, so you can follow the action (something I apppreaciate as a fluent speaker of the language). The complete opera is avaible on Public Domain Classic, along with some highliughts, which I will be sampling as part of today's music selections.

In addition to some of the Cluytens recording, I added a YouTube playlist of tracks from some of the Carmen suites put together by Fritz Hoffmann.

Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy and Horowitz's Carmen Variations are popular pieces, and they are rendeered beautifully in the selections below. Finally, to illusatrate how Bizet's approach and subject are well at home in the musical genre, I chose the "redo" of the Habanera, with words by Oscar Hammerstein II, in his "re-imaginig" of the opera, Carmen Jones, sung here "just right" by Dorothy Dandridge.



Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen - opéra-comique in four acts (1875)
Prelude to Act I
Tra la la la
Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre
La Fleur que tu m'avais jetée
Second Intermezzo

Main Characters:
Carmen - Solange Michel
Don José - Raoul Jobin
Escamillo - Michel Dens

Chorus of the Opéra-Comique, Henri Janin, Chorus Master
Orchestra of the Opéra-Comique, conducted by André Cluytens
Recorded 6-9 September, 1950

[Complete Opera]

Fritz HOFFMANN (1867 - 19??)
Excerpts from Carmen suites nos. 1 & 2
(Adapted from music by Georges BIZET)
(Uncredited performances)

Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Concert Fantasy on themes from Bizet's Carmen, Op.25
Gil Shahan, violin, Unidentified orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado

Vladimir HOROWITZ (1903-1989)
Variations on a Theme from Bizet's Carmen, for piano (1926)
Vladimir Horowitz, piano

Robert Russell BENNETT (1894-1981)
"Dat's Love" from Carmen Jones (1943)
(Adapted fro m music by Georges BIZET)
Dorothy Dandridge, vocalist
1954 Film soundtrack

September 9 2011, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "Daytime" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentary September 9th on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Sep-28-2011 at 02:19 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Opera , Recorded Music


  1. Odnoposoff's Avatar
    "Que" and "Carmen" without "´".
  2. itywltmt's Avatar

    I wasn't sure about the accent on the "que" because I thought it was needed to distinguish different uses of the pronoun. As for the accent on Carmen, it depends - me thinks - if you want emphasis on the last syllable or not.

    Either way, I stand corrected.
    Updated Sep-13-2011 at 23:28 by itywltmt