Biography of George Bizet, Essay Example

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Essay

George Alexander Cesar Leopold Bizet was born on 25th October, 1838 in Paris, his mother was a pianist and is father taught voice and composed, as stated by Gifford Katya (2012). His talent had been recognized by the age of four, and with his parent’s encouragement, Bizet’s moved forward in the music field Gifford Katya (2012). Bizet entered the Paris Conservatoire de Musique in 1848, and studied under Zimmerman, Halevy and Gounod from the age of nine till twenty, where his success was flourished by a series of prizes for theory, piano, organ and composition as Gifford Katya (2012) has extensively covered the subject.

Getting musical fame and fortune, Bizet desperately wanted to write successful operas, and he also won the coveted Prix de Rome for composition in 1857with the premiere of his sparkling operetta Le Docteur Miracle, and the 1867 Premiere of his opera La jolie fille de Perth, was also favorably received by press as stated by Gifford Katya(2012).  Being followed by bad luck, Bizet went into depression and self doubt; the mere reason for his fatigue were several family mishaps including his son’s death,  and he pinned all his hopes on Carmen (his last opera) as mentioned by Gifford Katya (2012). However, Carmen was premiered in Paris on 3rd March, 1875.

Historical Background for Carmen (Opera):

Bryce Westervelt (2007) has mentioned as Georges Bizet’s Opera, Carmen, is one of the most beloved operas of all-time, with a libretto by Henry Meilhad and Ludovic Halevy, that is based on the novel by the same name, written by author Prosper Merimee. Aaron Green (2012) has covered the historical background of Carmen as the scene of Carmen takes place in Seville, Spain during the mid 19th Century.

Bryce Westervelt (2007) has stated that Bizet found great opposition to his work, as many people found the plot of the opera to be “immoral”, however, the first performance of Carmen at the Opera-Comique in Paris, 1875 broke all records and formed new basis for French opera, portraying a mist of tragic story. The possible reasons behind the choice of this story might be the sole reflection of the tragic life of George Bizet, as he had been stuck with tragedies one after the other. Bizet has composed a breath taking music according to the story.

Viewing the musical style of Carmen, which is a fascinating story of passion, romance and betrayal, Bizet had composed wonderful arias, including the instantly recognizable Habanera, and the famous Toreador song. This aria is as followed, translated into English by Aaron Green (2012).

Designs of Costumes, Stage and Lightings at the Carmen Opera:

According to Linda Arthur(2011), the Opera, Carmen possess a lot of soul and the Carmen shows are always enlaced with colors, on Tilden’s large stage, which is very impressive. The stage show demonstrates a mixture of vivid and colorful dresses, with a contagious energy of music, lyrics and libretto that inscribes Carmen in endless ways.

Carmen is an open-staged opera directed by Emma Dante (2010), where the story shows envy, love, romance deceit and tragedy.

French Text

Oui, les Toreros, peuvent s’entendre;
Pour plaisirs, pour plaisirs,
Ils ont les combats!
Le cirque est plein,
c’est jour de fete!
Le cirque est plein du haut en bas;
Les spectateurs, perdant la tete,
Les spectateurs s’interpellent
a grand fracas!

(Aaron Green, 2012)

Apostrophes, cris et tapage
Pousses jusques a la fureur!
Car c’est la fete du courage!
C’est la fete des gens de co
Allons! en garde! Allons! Allons! ah!
Toreador, en garde! Toreador, Toreador!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant
Qu’un oeil noir te regarde,
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toreador, L’amour t’attend!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant
Qu’un oeil noir te regarde,
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toreador, L’amour t’attend!

Tout d’un coup, on fait silence…
Ah! que se passe-t-il?
Plus de cris, c’est l’instant!
Plus de cris, c’est l’instant!
le taureau s’elance
En bondissant hors du Toril!
Il s’elance! Il entre,
Il frappe! un cheval roule,
Entrainant un Picador,

(Aaron Green, 2012)

Ah! bravo! Toro! Hurle la foule!
Le taureau va, il vient,
il vient et frappe encore!
En secouant ses banderilles,
Plein de fureur, il court!
Le cirque est plein de sang!
On se sauve, on franchit les grilles!
C’et ton tour maintenant! allons!
En garde! allons! allons! Ah!
Toreador, en garde! Toreador, Toreador!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant
Qu’un oeil noir te regarde,
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toreador, L’amour t’attend!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant
Qu’un oeil noir te regarde
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toreador, L’amour t’attend!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant
Qu’un oeil noir te regarde
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toreador, L’amour t’attend!

(Aaron Green, 2012)

L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!
Toreador, Toreador, L’amour t’attend!

English Text:

Your toast, I can give it to you
Sirs, sirs, for along with the soldiers
Yes, the Toreros, can understand;
For pleasures, for pleasures
They have combats!
The arena is full,
it is the feast day!
The arena is full, from top to bottom;
The spectators are losing their minds,
The spectators began a big fracas!
Apostrophes, cries, and uproar grow to a furor!
Because it is a celebration of courage!
It is the celebration of people with heart!
Let’s go, en guard! Let’s go! Let’s go! Ah!
Toreador, en guard! Toreador, Toreador! And dream away, yes, dream in combat,
That a black eye is watching you,
And that love awaits you,
Toreador, love awaits you!
And dream away, yes dream in combat,

(Aaron Green, 2012)

That a black eye is watching you
And may love await you,
Toreador, love await you!

All of a sudden, it is silent…
Ah, what is happening?
More cries! It is the moment!
More cries! It is the moment!
The bull throws himself out
Bounding out of the bullpin!
He throws himself out! He enters.
He strikes! A horse rolls,
Dragging a picador,
Ah, Bravo! Bull! The crowd roars!
The bull goes, he comes,
He comes and strikes again!
Shaking his dart-stabbed neck,

Full of fury, he runs!
The arena is full of blood!
They save themselves, they pass the gates
It is your turn now. Let’s go!
En guard! Let’s go! Let’s go! Ah!
Toreador, en guard! Toreador, Toreador!
And dream away, yes, dream in combat,

(Aaron Green, 2012)

That a black eye is watching you,
And that love awaits you,
Toreador, Love awaits you!
And dream away, yes, dream in combat,
That a black eye is looking at you
And that love awaits you
Toreador, love awaits you!
And dream away, yes, dream in combat,
That a black eye is looking at you
And that love awaits you
And that love awaits you.
Toreador, love awaits you!
Love! Love! Love!
Toreador, Toreador, love awaits you!

(Aaron Green, 2012).

French translation of Habanera

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c’est bien in vain qu’on l’appelle
S’il lui convient de refuser.

Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière.
L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait.

Et c’est l’autre que je préfère.
Il n’a rien dit mais il me plait.

L’amour! L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!

L’amour est enfant de Bohême,
Il n’a jamais jamais connu de loi.
Si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime.
Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

Si tou ne m’aimes pas, si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime,
Mais si je t’aime, si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendere
Battit d’aile et s’envola.
L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre.
Tu ne l’attends pas, il est là.

Tout atour de toi, vite vite,
Il vient, s’en va, puis il revient.
Tu crois le tenir, il t’evite.
Tu crois l’eviter, il te tient.

L’amour! L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!

(Aaron Green, 2012)

L’amour est enfant de Bohême,
Il n’a jamais jamais connu de loi.
Si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime.
Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

Si tou ne m’aimes pas, si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime,
Mais si je t’aime, si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

(Aaron Green, 2012)

English Translation of Habanera

Love is a rebellious bird
that nobody can tame,
and you call him quite in vain
if it suits him not to come.

Nothing helps, neither threat nor prayer.
One man talks well, the other’s mum;
it’s the other one that I prefer.
He’s silent but I like his looks.

Love! Love! Love! Love!

Love is a gypsy’s child,
it has never, ever, known a law;

(Aaron Green, 2012)

love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you’d best beware! etc.

The bird you thought you had caught
beat its wings and flew away …
love stays away, you wait and wait;
when least expected, there it is!

All around you, swift, so swift,
it comes, it goes, and then returns …
you think you hold it fast, it flees
you think you’re free, it holds you fast.

Love! Love! Love! Love!

Love is a gypsy’s child,
it has never, ever, known a law;
love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you’d best beware!

(Aaron Green, 2012)

George Bizet’s opera, Carmen, was a spoken dialog rather than recitative, but the recitation of the songs substituted the dialogs his friend Ernest Guiraud after Bizet’s death.  The sypnosis of Carmen has ten main characters that made the play such a huge success.

The main characters in the opera Carmen were:

Carmen (a gypsy, mezzo soprano)

Don Jose (Corporal of the Dragoons)

Escamillo (Toreador/bullfighter)

Micaela (A village maiden)

Zuniga (Captain of the Dragoons)

Morales (Officer)

Frasquita (Gypsy companion of Carmen)

Mercedes (Gypsy companion of Carmen)

El Dancairo (A Smuggler)

El Remendado (A Smuggler)

(Bryce Westervelt, 2007)

There are four acts in the entire play. According to Bryce Westervelt (2007), the first act, scene I introduces a cigarette factory in Seville, Spain, where Officer Morales is a duty guard.  Micaela is engaged to Don Jose, who is interrupted by an unusual love invitation from Carmen, a beautiful gypsy girl. As Carmen gets arrested for attacking another woman, she manages to escape by seducing Jose, thus putting Jose into prison. After being released from jail in scene II, Jose met Carmen at a dance bar and burst into a fight with Zuniga, the Captain of the Dragoons, followed that Zuniga is taken away at gunpoint and Jose join the smugglers forcefully.

In scene III, being involved with smugglers, Carmen leaves Jose and falls for Escamillo, who is at the verge of getting shot by Jose, and has warned to avenge them. Prior to that, Carmen’s tarot cards portrayes death when the three girls were playing tarot cards, where Frasquita’s and Mercede’s cards show wealth and happiness. The climax in scene IV shows that Escamillo is joined by Carmen at a parade of the bull-fighting arena, where other smugglers warn her to go away as Don Jose has come to kill her, and guess what, Carmen refuses. As Don Jose joins Carmen, pleading for getting together with her and confesses that he is still in love with her, she ruthlessly sneers at him and throws away the ring at Jose’s feet; Jose, being outraged, grabs her from the back and pierces a knife in Carmen’s heart, where she dies instantly at the roar of Escamillo’s victory, as narrated by Bryce Westervelt (2007).

This story has a unique essence of love, jealousy and betrayal.  It tells us the unpredictable, malicious, romantic and the deniable nature of human being because love can lead to construction if lead in the right direction, on the other hand, can lead to destruction if gone astray. The message I would like to convey in this unique and tragic opera is that in Scene II by Bryce Westervelt (2007), where Carmen is being ignorant and obnoxious to Jose, she should have shown more patience and loyalty towards his own love; if she truly loves Don Jose, she should have never let him go, and should have explained to him how she feels about the entire mob of smugglers, and that Jose should abandon them. However, in Scene IV, Jose gets extensively jealous and kills his true love; he should have never gone outrageously mad and killed her, as this shows he wants to control the person he loves, and love can never be controlled.

References

Arthur, L. (2011).Cape Cod Opera: Summer Scenes, Love, Betrayal and Death. Retrieved from: http://www.capecodopera.org/productions.php

Green, A. (2012). Habanera Text and Translation. Retrieved from: http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/opera/qt/habaneralyrics.htm

Green, A. (2012). The Sypnosis of “Carmen”. Retrieved from: http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/opera/qt/carmensynopsis.htm

Green, A. (2012). Toreador Song Lyrics and Text Translation. Retrieved from: http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/classicalmusictips/qt/toreardor_song_lyrics.htm

Katya, G. (2012). George Bizet-Biography. Retrieved from: http://www.humanitiesweb.org/spa/cai/ID/743

Sippl, D. (2010). To and From La Scala: Carmen on the Screen. Retrieved from: http://www.kinocaviar.com/carmen.php

Westervelt, B. (2007). Carmen-Bizet’s Opera: Introduction to George’s Bizet’s Tragic French Opera. Retrieved from : http://bryce-westervelt.suite101.com/carmen-101-a12698

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