Saturday, August 6, 2011

Maria Callas: Habanera from Bizet's 'Carmen'



Maria Callas: Habanera  from  Bizet's "Carmen": Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Convent Garden, London, England: Georges Prêtre, conducting (1962).

The libretto of  Georges Bizet's famous aria was written by Henry Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on El Arreglito by Sebastián Yradier. (See Carmen's Overture for more background notes on the opera.) The habanera's origins date to Havana, Cuba. This habanera is sometimes referred to as L'amour est un oiseau rebelle. (Love is a rebellious bird).

Maria Callas was born Sophia Cecelia Kalos in New York City on December 2, 1923 to George Kalogeropoulos and Evangelia "Litsa" Dimitriadou, who were of Greek descent. (Her father later changed the name to Callas.) Callas, an American-born Greek soprano, would become one of the most famous opera singers of the mid 20th century, whose public life sometimes overtook her musical talent.

She moved with her mother and older sister (Jackie) to Greece in 1937, where she received her musical training. By the early 1950s she was established in Italy and internationally. Her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the bible of opera." And Opera News said of Callas in 2006: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists."

As Wikipedia describes it, "Maestro Carlo Maria Giulini has described the appeal of Callas's voice":
It is very difficult to speak of the voice of Callas. Her voice was a very special instrument. Something happens sometimes with string instruments—violin, viola, cello—where the first moment you listen to the sound of this instrument, the first feeling is a bit strange sometimes. But after just a few minutes, when you get used to, when you become friends with this kind of sound, then the sound becomes a magical quality. This was Callas.[11]
Maria Callas died in Paris, France, of a heart attack on September 16, 1977. She was 53. In accordance with her final wish, her ashes were scattered over the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece.

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The text and translation has kindly been supplied by About.com:
 

French Text

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!

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!

English Translation

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;
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!

2 comments:

  1. I first saw Carmen at the New York City Opera Company in 1952, when I was 15. As for Maria Callas, I bought the recording of her singing Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana in 1954, when it first came out. I listened to it very often and learned quite a bit of Italian. In particular, I learned the difference between "i nostri sposi" (our husbands) and "le nostre spose" (our wives), as well the the masculine "amici" and feminine "amiche" meaning friends.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Prof Jochnowitz: Thank you for your comments. I also think that listening to music, especially enjoyable music, helps you learn a new language with greater ease.

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