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Sunday, 29 December 2013


Carmen is an opéra comique by the French composer Georges Bizet 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, Bizet's work bombed at its 1875 première 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. The critics denounced it a failure, accusing it as being "immoral" and "superficial." "What is really wrong with this Carmen is that there's not a good tune in it," splattered one reporter. By the end of its first run of 48 performances, the theatre was giving tickets away in order to stimulate attendance.

A lithograph of act 1 in the premiere performance, by Pierre-Auguste Lamy, 1875

Bizet was devastated and died of a heart attack three months later 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 it 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.

Carmen has been the subject of several popular-music adaptations over the years. Many of you will be familiar with Carmen Jones, a 1943 Broadway musical adaptation with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Source Songfacts

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