My Intro to Opera–Bizet’s “Carmen”

In the fall of 2015, I saw my first professional production of Bizet’s opera, Carmen, by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. It was wonderful! I went all-out, buying a video, soundtrack album, and libretto. Sometimes you just have to listen at home as well. I was completely captivated by the costumes, set, the singing, and the lighting. The ending, though expected, left me feeling as though I had been punched in the gut.

It was my very first opera anywhere. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pre-opera presentation. Had I known about the discussion afterward, I would have stayed for that as well. Before the performance, I went over the background material in my opera reference book and listened to the info on the Kennedy Center website

I have known the music since I was a child. Sesame Street long ago featured an animation of one of the famous arias. I’ve encountered it since through music appreciation classes and other recordings. It is, arguably, one of the most performed and accessible operas. The Met is launching a new production of it in January 2017.

Classical WETA 90.9 often plays Sarasate’s  “Carmen Fantasy.” I always enjoy listing to that, Here is Sarah Chang’s interpretation:

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Placido and Puccini

Now I undertand why one of my former bosses loved Placido Domingo so much. His voice is beautiful! She was lucky enough to see him at the Met several times. As an actor, she called him one of the best. I hope he is still performing. I heard a piano and violin version of “Storiella d’amore” the other day–an instrumental–and was hooked. I want to do more research on the Puccini opera as a whole. Here’s a link to the English translation of the song. I hope it’s the right one.

Here’s another instrumental of it I found for piano and trumpet that is also very lovely. There’s something about Italian music that really grabs the emotions. A very gentle way to begin the day.

Bizet’s Symphony in C

I found another composer to learn about in greater detail–Georges Bizet.  So many people are familiar with his opera, Carmen. From a young age, I heard selections from it, but have never seen it performed. Somewhere along the line, I must have known it was his final work, but I had forgotten that until recently.

In his unfortunately very short career, Bizet, composed symphonies, dramas, and other works. Yesterday morning, I heard Symphony in C for  the first time. It’s gorgeous!

 

Opera Cats

I haven’t started learning about opera yet, but I found this great fun. Thanks to Denver Dan of the McEdit listserv for pointing it my way.