Published on Dec 13, 2013
Spanish heat and gypsy passion are brought to the stage in Francesca Zambello's vivid production of Bizet's opera: http://www.roh.org.uk/carmen
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 coloured 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.