Bdizioni Choudens Parigi - Rappresenlante esclusivo per l'Italia Casa Musicale Sonzogno Milano
Traduzione italiana di A. De Lauzieres
Carmen - Belen Amparan
Don Jose - Franco Corelli
Escamillo - Anselmo Colzani
Micaela - Elda Ribetti
Frasquita - Rena Gary - Falachi
Mercedes - Miti Truccato Pace
Zuniga - Antonio Cassinelli
Dancairo - Antonio Sacchetti
Remendado - Vittorio Pandano
Morales - Enzo Pieri
Orchestra e Coro di Milano della Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana Dirige: Nino Sanzogno
Regia: Franco Enriquez
Registrazione effittuata presso gli studi RAI di Milano il 13 giugno 1956
Cantata in italiano / Sung in Italian / Chanté en italien
"Carmen" had its premiere at the Opera Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875. The inspiration for Bizet's great operatic masterpiece was a short story by Prosper Merimee that was published in the Revue des Deux Mondes in 1845. It is surprising (though perhaps not too much so) that an opera which, like "Carmen," was destined to become an all-time popular success should have been somewhat coldly received at its premiere. Nonetheless, Bizet's opera, like Bellini's "Norma" and Verdi's "Traviata," was, though not a fiasco, certainly not a popular success either, at its premiere. This opera would eventually be recognized as a masterpiece, but unfortunately Bizet did not live long enough to be present when that recognition came.
Born in Paris in 1838, Bizet was something of a musical child prodigy, for he won the Grand Prix de Rome while still a teenager, in 1857. With "Carmen," his masterpiece, he had difficulty from the very beginning. The director of the Opera Comique was scandalized by the libretto. He considered it "conducive to immorality" and unfit for performance. The librettists then promised to soften the crudest passages, and after De Locle, the director, had accepted their new script, Bizet went to work with a will to set the fascinating story to music. The composition then proceeded without any hitches; Bizet orchestrated "Carmen" in only two months, in the summer of 1874; and he had completed the score by the beginning of January 1875. The libretto was rewritten several times, and Bizet himself wrote some of the lines in the celebrated "Habanera."
The music critics, an unreasoning and inflexible bunch in those days, failed to understand and digest the novelties that "Carmen" presented. Their reviews in the newspapers were critical of everything. They said the opera displayed cold musical erudition, a chaotic structure, and lack of melody. In short, they accused it of being Wagnerite, which in those days was the equivalent of an insult. Strangely enough, only Bizet's fellow composers, led by the elderly Camille Saint-Saens, recognized "Carmen" as a masterpiece.
Not long afterwards, "Carmen" began to receive more general recognition. A large number of European opera houses wanted to stage it. And it achieved true popular success in Vienna in 1876, in a performance in which the spoken dialogue had been replaced by musical recitatives scored by Ernest Guiraud. It did not return to the Opera Comique until 1883, but then, performed again in its original version, it had a triumphal success.
The composer was not present at this triumph. On 3 June 1875, exactly three months after the much-criticized premiere of his creation, Bizet died at Bougival, near Paris. Some say his death was a suicide.
The opera "Carmen" is further proof that in the nineteenth century the music of Spain did not have its own standard-bearers, its own composers. Instead, the composers of Spanish music were almost entirely French, from Chabrier with "Espania" to Saint-Saens with "Capriccio Andaluso" to Lalo with "Sinfonia Spagnola" to "Iberia" by Debussy, and Ravel's "Bolero." Great Spanish composers who wrote music for Spain were to appear later on the scene: De Falla, Albeniz, and many others. However, for the public throughout the world, "Carmen" presents and represents the music of Spain, and the crown prince of Spanish opera is a Frenchman: Georges Bizet.
Let us conclude with a comment written by a prestigious musicologist, Fedele d'Amico: "The Spanishness of 'Carmen' is not coloristic or exotic; instead, it has a dramatic function, and furthermore, creates a realistic setting that puts the entire work on a plane whose relation to reality is more direct and immediate than the story by itself could ever be."