Spanish heat and gypsy passion are brought to the stage in Francesca Zambello’s vivid production of Bizet’s opera.
The Habanera is the aria Carmen sings when she first appears on stage. It is also known as ‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’.
Carmen was based on a popular novella of the same name by Prosper Mérimée, which enticed French readers with exotic tales of Spain. Its heady combination of passion, sensuality and violence initially proved too much for the stage, and Georges Bizet’s opera was a critical failure on its premiere in 1875. Bizet died shortly after, never learning of the spectacular success Carmen would achieve – it has been staged over 500 times at Covent Garden alone.
Carmen contains many well-loved numbers, such as Carmen’s seductive Habanera and Escamillo’s rousing Toreador’s song, in which he celebrates the thrill of the bullfight. Richly colored designs capture the sultry heat of the Spanish sun, while ranks of soldiers, crowds of peasants, gypsies, and bullfighters bring 19th-century Seville alive. This combination of memorable music, vivid setting and dramatic story have made Carmen one of the most popular operas in the world.
Carmen, Act I: Habanera · David Tobin, Jeff Meegan, Julian Gallant and English Session Orchestra
Classical Collection – Opera & Oratorio
℗ Audio Network Ltd
Released on: 2019-09-27
Artist: David Tobin Artist: English Session Orchestra Artist: Jeff Meegan Artist: Julian Gallant
Habanera (music or dance of Havana, Spanish: La Habana) is the popular name for “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (“Love is a rebellious bird”), an aria from Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen.
It is the entrance aria of the title character, a mezzo-soprano role, in scene 5 of the first act.
It is based on a descending chromatic scale followed by variants of the same phrase in first the minor and then the major key, corresponding to the vicissitudes of love expressed in the lyrics.[not verified in body]
Despite the change in mode there is no actual modulation in the aria, and the implied pedal point D is maintained throughout; nevertheless, there is no sense of monotony or stasis.
The vocal range covers D4 to F♯5 with a tessitura from D4 to D5.
The score of the aria was adapted from the habanera “El Arreglito”, originally composed by the Spanish musician Sebastián Iradier.
Bizet thought it to be a folk song.
When others told him he had used something written by a composer who had died 10 years earlier, he had to add a note to the vocal score of Carmen acknowledging its source.
The French libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.