Carmen is one of the most enduringly popular of all operas, and the most successful of Georges Bizet’s works. Following its premiere at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1875, it has gone on to be performed at all the major opera houses of the world. With its searing depiction of passion, obsession and jealousy, it has never lost its hold on the opera-going public.
In this guide, Richard Langham Smith explores the development of the opera from Prosper Mérimée’s novella and includes a detailed discussion of its music. Lesley A. Wright places Carmen in the context of its challenge to the prevailing traditions of the Opéra-Comique in Paris, and George Hall examines the opera’s extensive performance history and the developing interpretations that singers and directors have brought to it. Gary Kahn gives examples of some of the many distinguished admirers that the work attracted from its very earliest performances.
Carmen: From Mérimée to Bizet, Richard Langham Smith
Carmen and the Opéra-Comique, Lesley A. Wright
A Selective Performance History, George Hall
Carmen’s Early Lovers, Gary Kahn
Sources and Editions, Richard Langham Smith
Carmen: Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy after the novella by Prosper Mérimée
Carmen: English translation by Richard Langham Smith
For anyone with a keen interest in opera, whatever their level of knowledge, this series remains a benchmark of quality and clarity. The content is serious, reliable and trustworthy, handsomely put together, full of variety and scholarship but always making the practical experience of going to the opera a priority. I return to these volumes again and again and find the updated and new issues absolutely invaluable.
These guides, so beautiful to have and to behold, mark a huge advance on their predecessors. I find them essential supplements, not only to ENO and Royal Opera programmes, but to recordings issued on CD which often come without scholarly documentation and a libretto. The performance histories … are especially valuable, and not easily accessible elsewhere.
This uniformly excellent series is indispensable for the serious opera lover, all the more so now that almost all the CD companies have abandoned issuing a libretto with their opera releases, and have such scant background information. The English translations are on facing pages with the original texts, and in all respects the books are helpful and compact, and interestingly illustrated.
Beautifully produced and designed … they are terrific value.
The Daily Telegraph
For everything you need to know, concisely packaged.
I am delighted to see the return of the ENO Opera Guides, bigger and even more authoritative than before. There are authoritative new articles as well as several of the irreplaceable originals, the presentation is very handsome and a decided gain is the brilliantly chosen selection of production images, in colour as well as black and white. The Guides are an invaluable reference for opera lovers at any level.
Neat little volumes they are, handy for carrying around, clearly printed and well set-out, complete with libretto and translation, discography and a generous selection of illustrations.
This is an invaluable addition to an already valuable series … In short, a must for every Carmen-lover's (and director's) bookshelf
This is one of the most pleasing Overture Opera Guides to date. They are fast becoming as necessary to a good night at the opera as a ticket in the better parts of the house.
BBC Music Magazine
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) was a French composer of great brilliance and originality, but who never lived to see the success of his work. In addition to Carmen, his operas include Les Pêcheurs de perles and La Jolie Fille de Perth. He died, aged thirty-six, three months after failure of the Paris premiere of Carmen.