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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet was born in Paris on October 25, 1838. His father was a singing teacher, and his mother, a gifted pianist. Young Georges was a child prodigy and when only nine, he entered the great Paris Conservatory of Music and rapidly developed into a brilliant pianist.

At the age of 19 Bizet won the Grand Prix de Rome, a government scholarship. He studied in Rome for three years where he completed a two-act opera buffa, Don Procopio (not heard until 1906), and a Te Deum.

After returning to Paris, Bizet refused offers of a teaching position at the conservatory and a career as a concert pianist. Instead he devoted his efforts to composition. However his efforts to achieve a reputation as an operatic composer were largely unsuccessful, and he never remained free of financial worries.

Georges Bizet in 1875

Bizet's last work was Carmen, an opéra comique about a passionate but self-destructive gypsy girl and her dramatic murder at the hands of her pathologically jealous soldier lover. Bizet based his work on Prosper Mérimée's short novel, Carmen, which had appeared in October 1845.

Despite its popularity today, Carmen bombed at its premiere at the Opéra Comique of Paris on March 3, 1875 as the audience found the risqué plot, with its robbers, gypsies and cigarette-girls, too hot to handle.  By the end of its first run of 48 performances, the theatre was giving tickets away in order to stimulate attendance.


Bizet was devastated by the failure of Carmen and died of a massive heart attack three months later on June 3, 1875 aged just 37. Five months after the composer's death, it was produced in Vienna, to critical and popular success, which began its path to worldwide popularity. Since the 1880s Carmen has been one of the world's most performed operas and a staple of the operatic repertoire. Tragically, Bizet never knew of the opera's eventual success.

Source Songfacts

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