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date: 23 October 2019


  • Hugh Macdonald


Opéra comique in four acts by Georges Bizet to a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy after Prosper Mérimée’s novel; Paris, Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart), 3 March 1875.

Despite the failure of Djamileh in 1872, the Opéra-Comique directors, Du Locle and De Leuven, invited Bizet to compose an opera in three acts. Meilhac and Halévy were named as librettists and various subjects suggested. It was Bizet himself who put forward Mérimée’s novel Carmen as a subject. The librettists were enthusiastic, but De Leuven was alarmed at the thought of Carmen being killed on stage and other elements unsuitable in what he regarded as a family opera house. He soon resigned, while the project went ahead. Bizet worked on the score in 1873, interrupted by the never completed Don Rodrigue, and at the end of that year Galli-Marié was engaged to sing the role of Carmen. The opera was orchestrated in the summer of ...

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