Georges Bizet

1838 - 1875

Georges Bizet (25 October 1838 – 3 June 1875), was a French composer of the romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.

Bizet was born in Paris in 1838, the son of a pianist and a singing teacher. He was quick to master the rudiments of music and his father had great hopes that he would become a composer. At the age of ten he entered the Paris Conservatoire and studied with Charles Gounod and Jacques Halevy, whose daughter Bizet was later to marry. An exceptional student, Bizet won many prizes, initially for his piano playing and later for composition. Chief among these was the prestigious Prix dc Rome, won when he was 18 and resulting in a fave-уеаг pension. One of his notable early works is the Symphony in С from 1855. The score was lost for many years and the piece was not performed until 1935.
 

Bizet's first mature opera was the love story Les pecheurs dc perles (The Pearl Fishers), performed at the Theatre Lyrique in Paris in 1863. It drew the attention of other composers, Berlioz being a particular admirer; but it failed to gain widespread acceptance by audiences and ran for only 18 performances. Other, equally unsuccessful operas — including the unjustly neglected La jolie fille de Perth (The fair maid of Perth) — appeared during the next few years, leaving Bizet's future as a composer uncertain.
 

At the same time that his musical activities failed to live up to the promise of earlier years, Bizet's personal life also took an unhappy turn. In 1867 his engagement to Genevieve Halevy was broken off, and although they did in fact marry in 1869, she showed signs of increasing mental instability and had a breakdown a year before the birth of their only child in 1872.


In 1872 Bizet wrote L'Arlesieune, the incidental music for a play by Daudet. Scored for 26 instruments, including a saxophone, the music was greeted coolly, although when rescored for full orchestra it gained the attention and audience appreciation it deserved.
 

Without a doubt Bizet's greatest achievement, however, was the opera Carmen, which he wrote towards the end of his short life. Despite being termed an opera comiquc, due to its inclusion of spoken dialogue, it hardly amounts to a humorous evening's entertainment.

Based on Prosper Merimee's story of the life, love affairs, and tragic death of the gypsy Carmen, it did not achieve immediate success. Critics claimed that it was too sensational, the story "obscene", and that it had no tunes; while many of the audience were outraged at the sight of women smoking on stage.

 

Today Carmen is one of the best-loved operas in the repertoire, and songs such as "Habanera" and "The Toreador's Song" remain consistently popular. The opera reached a wider audience through Carmen Jones, in which the story was updated by Oscar Hammerstein to 1940s America. Unaware of how hugely successful his creation would become, Bizet died near Paris in 1875 a bitterly disappointed man.

"Love is rebellious bird that nobody can tame, and it's all in vain to call it if it chooses to refuse."

Georges Bizet       

Key Works

 L'Arlesienne Suite No.1 No.2

 Carmen Suite No.1 No.2

Symphony No 1 in C Major

1. Allegro vivo
2. Adagio
3. Allegro vivace
4. Finale, Allegro vivace

Symphony No 2 "Roma"

I. Andante Tranquillo - Allegro Agitato - 00:00
II. Allegretto Vivace - 12:41
III. Andante Molto - 18:36
IV. Allegro - Vivacissimo - 26:34

Jeux d'enfants ('Children's Games'), Op.22

1.Reverie: L'Escarpolette (The Swing)
2.Impromptu: La Toupie (The Top) 2:30
3. 3.Berceuse: La Poupée (The Doll) 3:31
4.Scherzo: Les Chevaux de bois (The Merry-Go-Round) 5:53
5. 5.Fantaisie: Le Volant (The Shuttlecock) 7:10
6.Marche: Trompette et Tambour (Trumpet and Tambourine) 8:10
7.Rondino: Les Bulles de Savon (The Soap Bubbles) 10:20
8.Esquisse: Les quatre coins (The Four Coins) 11:48
9.Nocturne: Colin-Maillard (Hide and Seek) 14:04
10.Caprice: Saute-Mouton (Leapfrog) 15:38
11.Duo: Petit mari, petite femme (Playing House) 16:54
12.Galop: Le Bal (The Ball) 20:12

Carmen - "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"

Carmen - Toreador Song

Carmen - aria Don Jose

 Carmen: Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante

Carmen

Bizet's Carmen, the first realistic opera, shocked the first audiences with its lifelike characters, sensual passions, and graphic on-stage murder. Set to a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy, the plot was inspired by Prosper Merimee’s short novel about a passionate Spanish gypsy.
ACT ONE (60:00) Soldiers arrest Carmen for assaulting a fellow worker at the cigarette factory in Seville. She escapes by seducing Don Jose, one of the guards, who is then imprisoned.

ACT TWO (40:00) At Lilias Pastia’s bar, Carmen attracts the bullfighter Escamillo. When Don Jose is released, she persuades him to desert the army and join a band of smugglers.

ACT THREE (40:00) Donjose, Carmen, and the smugglers march through the night. Carmen foretells her own death. Escamillo follows, fights Don Jose, and just escapes with his life.

ACT FOUR (20:00) In Seville, Carmen goes to the bullfight to watch her new lover, but Don Jose confronts and kills her.

Georges Bizet grave

Les Pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers)
Je crois entendre encore

Bizet’s first operatic hit, achieved in his 20s, never enjoyed Carmen’s success, but still attracts audiences. Although written to an appalling libretto, its charm lies in its melodic music, sensual undertones, and exotic atmosphere, evoked by lively rhythms and spicy harmonies. The appealing vocal score, inspired by Bizet’s mentor, Charles Gounod, also helps to enthrall listeners, with such sweet, memorable songs as “Au fond du temple saint”.

ACT ONE (45:00] A fishing crew choose Zurga as their chief. He and his friend, Nadir, recall the time when they fell for the same woman, Leila, but avoided conflict by letting her go.
ACT TWO (30:00) Leila, now a priestess, arrives by boat to bless the fishermen. Nadir recognizes her as the woman he once loved, and reveals his passion. Learning of their love, the high priest Nourabad condemns them to death.
ACT THREE (25:00)Leila is led to her death, but Zurga relents and torches the camp, letting the lovers escape.

 

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