Bizets Operas

Do you like Bizets opera Carmen? Read on for the history of Bizet and his operas.

The operas of Bizet are standard repertoire today. In fact, Carmen has been played all over the world to rave reviews from audiences. But how did this composer get his start? What other operas did he produce?

Bizet was born in Paris. He entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of ten, and was considered a child prodigy. By seventeen, he gave a public premiere of his first symphony, one that was received with great applause from audiences and critics alike. He was awarded the Prix de Rome at this time, a prize that allowed him to continue study. Following this success, Bizet created three operas for his Paris audience. They were: The Pearl Fishers, Djamileh, and The Fair Maid of Perth. Only The Fair Maid of Perth was received well, however. Audiences were outraged at this choice of subject, and the apparent coldness of his operatic works. Opera at the time in France was a very ceremonial event, dealing with little in the real world. Bizet's choices for the stage brought elements of grim realism into the opera scene. For this reason, his early years were rough.

Bizet's next choice for an opera showed that he rejected public opinion, even at the price of his career. There is no known reason why Bizet picked the story of Carmen for his next opera. Originally a book by Prosper Merimee, and written in 1845, Carmen was the tale of a gypsy woman and a jealous, hot-blooded man that falls in love with her. Carmen herself is a minx, exuding sexuality and daring through the story. In the end, it is her unfaithful cheating that leads her lover to kill her. While the work is one of the most popular pieces around today, it created quite a scandal in Paris at the time. Audiences were shocked at the open lewdness of the story, and the moral implications that it held. It is interesting to note that Carmen received a better reception in the other countries of Europe. Five years after its premiere in 1875, Carmen returned to Paris to rage reviews and open arms.

It is interesting to note that Bizet objected to cutting the libretto for Carmen. He appeared to want to produce the work in its full form. While he allowed the creation of two other characters to increase plot, he stayed with the story's min line. Hints of Spanish sevillanas and havaneras can be heard in his music and rhythm. He followed traditions of setting operas in Spain, even though they were only about twenty years old at the time.

Bizet left a legacy of unfinished operas and musical scores behind at his death. It is said that the composer, while being brilliant, never established his own style. Whether this is the case or not, Carmen is perhaps the most popular opera around today, and several of his other operas are regular pieces for the Met, La Scala and Covent garden.

While Carmen is the composer's favored work, the interested listener might want to look at other operas of Bizet, specifically Calendal, El Cid, Clarisse, Harlowe, Ivan Le Terrible, Noe, Sante Genevieve, Templiers, and Monseiur Vasco De Gama.

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