Background to Bizet’s Carmen:
In 19th century Paris, Oriental subjects with opportunities for exotic-sounding music, were very much favored. George Bizet (1838-1875) also used oriental subjects because like his contemporary painters he was also impressed by the North Africa, Moors etc. Two of his operas before Carmen: The Pearl Fishers (1863)-Far East- and Djamileh (1872)-Egypt-. Orient means a far off setting giving dramatic opportunity for an exceptional, exotic touch in the music. Far East, India, Africa,Spain with their folkloric characters became very interesting. Offered a rich imagination for the artists. For Carmen, Bizet found another orient at the very door of France: Spain.
Carmen, as the character of “seductive Spanish gipsy”-Escamillo, a Spanish hero, a Toreador.
Carmen was composed in 1875, displeased most of the critics and called as a failure. It is said that it caused the early death of its composer.
Tschaikovsky, visiting Paris at this time, prophesied that within ten years it would be the most popular opera in the world. Maybe he overestimated. But Carmen became a real favorite of all the opera houses since then.
Carmen opera is classified as a “comique opera” in spite of its tragic and realistic subjet. This is a technical classification. The use of spoken dialogue, in place of recitative, is a typical feature of the comic opera genre. After Bizet’s death Carmen was performed and published in all-sung version, with recitatives replaced the spoken-dialogues.

It is in a way a Grand Opera with its crowded scenery, dances and chorus.
Chorus of soldiers, street boys, townspeople, cigarette girls, gypsies, smugglers.
Also it was influenced by Wagner’s operas in the usage of leitmotive. (When Escamillo is introduced, the bullfight music repeats and suddenly Carmen’s motif comes.)
Indeed, Carmen is a direct outpoor of human feelings. Everything is open. Nothing is hidden and is not presented through the embellishments.
It was a shock for the regular opera audience: Girls were smoking on the stage! It was a disgusting death for a heroine. It was so sudden for Don Jose to kill her immediately. It was too blody to drow a parrallel with the bull fight and the crime of human being outside the arena.
With all these features, Carmen opened the gates to the Realistic opera genr, which is called as verismo:

Singer is given one instrument at birth. And each person has his own voice range which characterizes his own color. In opera, singers are classified by range: There are six classification: Soprano, highest female voice; Mezzo-soprano, middle; contralto, the lowest female voice. Tenor is the highest male voice, bariton, the middle and bass is the lowest male voice.
In many operas the leading female role is soprano. But Carmen and Dalia are exceptinos, they are is mezzo-sopranos, which means it is the middle female voice.
Carmen:Mezzo=middle soprano
Micaela: A lyric soprano. A voice with a light, innocent quality.The role is graceful, charming and sentimental.
Don Jose-is a tenor. Which is symbolises a pure and youthful male voice.
Escamillo-Bariton (sometimes bass) A darker voice, an elder, more powerful figure.

The opera orchestra, like many others, divides into four groups: String, brass, woodwinds and percussion. An 18th century opera may require 25-30 players where a Wagner opera may require 153 performers in the orchestra.

Bizet’s scoring is unusual for its simplicity and clarity for his time. It doesn’t have exotic instruments except the castanets and the tambourine, both of which Carmen introduces on the stage. For Carmen, the violins play in their lower range. For Micaela they play sweetly in their higher range. For Escamillo he used the trumpets, horns and trombones to reflect his courage. For Don Jose, the most complicated character, and the only one who developed thor the whole opera, he used the whole orchestra with some emphasis on the woodwinds.
The introduction to the chorus of the boys is a solo for two piccola flutes. (The smallest flute plays the highest notes).
The English horn introduces Act 2, and is the solo insturement throughout Don Jose’s flower song. Trumpet is used many times. Like The change of guard and the boys chorus. French Horn, colors the aria of Micaella, and their duets.

Act 4: After Escamillo leads in Carmen, he tells that within the hour she will be proud of him. It is his proudest and tenderest moment,his offering of his courage to her. The cellos have the melody and the double-bass group. The violas weave around them.
Except for the final chords, the opera ends with human voice: Don Jose’s broken voice.More realistiic, more touching.
French people did not accept operea before adding dances in it.
In Carmen, Habanera-originally an African dance which went to Cuba-Habana-Havana-came to be a popular Spanish dance.Sings and dances in Act 1. Seguidilla- an old Spanish dance in the first act Carmen seduces Don Jose. Use of the castanets is very attractive.

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