Friday, April 15, 2016

Bizet’s Carmen (1978)



One of the world’s most beloved operas is the four-act Carmen by Georges Bizet [1838–75], with a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, itself based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. (The synopsis can be found here.) When the opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on March  3,1875, it was poorly received, it straying too far from the conventional tastes of Parisians. The opera fared better in Vienna and elsewhere, including London and New York, thus becoming an international success. Bizet, however, never saw its success, having died on June 3rd, despondent of his creative failure. He was 36.

Here is the 1978 Franco Zeffirelli production, directed by Brian Large and conducted by Carlos Kleiber, in front of the Vienna Staatsoper (the Vienna State Opera) on December 9, 1978. Kleiber rarely conducted opera, so this is a special treat. The opera’s chief characters are as follows:

Don José: Plácido Domingo
Carmen: Elena Obraztsova
Escamillo: Yuri Mazurok
Micaela: Isobel Buchanan