Carmen: The Gypsy Love Story Through the Genius of Georges Bizet

Iconic Opera “Carmen” Set for Special Showing at Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Ultimate Femme Fatale, Carmen (Act 1) (Photo by/Sarah Gamal)
Carmen enters and sings her provocative habanera on the untamable nature of love (Act 1) ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle").
Looks of love between Carmen and Don José (Act 2) (Photo by/Sarah Gamal).
The Men Plead with Carmen to Choose a Lover, and After Some Teasing She Throws A Flower to Don José (Act 1) (Photo by/Sarah Gamal).
Escamillo enters with Carmen, and they express their mutual love (Act 4) (Photo by/Sarah Gamal).
6- Don José pleads vainly for Carmen to return to him (Act 4) (Photo by/Sarah Gamal).
Closing Scene of Opera Carmen (Act 4) (Photo by Bothina Shalaan)
Closing Scene of Opera Carmen (Act 4) (Photo by Bothina Shalaan)
Conductor of the Opera Carmen at the BA Maestro/Nayer Nagui (Supplied)

“L’amour est enfant de Bohême,

Il n’a jamais jamais connu de loi.

Si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime.

Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!”

― Georges Bizet


As you take a deep breath as soon as you hear the rhythm and before the clarinet murmurs, you will find yourself putting aside your cares of the day, even the cares of your whole life, as a listener, not a hearer, to an opera that is called “Carmen.”

Carmen enters and sings her provocative habanera on the untamable nature of love (Act 1) ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle").

Under the patronage of Prof. Moustafa Elfeki, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and attended by the German Cultural Attaché Felix Halla, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina hosted the opera “Carmen,” which is a grand operatic work by French composer Georges Bizet.  It was presented in its theatrical form to the audience of Alexandria in cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Alexandria over two nights of art.

The Great Theater Hall in the library witnessed a turnout from the Alexandrian audience, which includes lovers of operatic art and theatrical arts. The show “Carmen Opera” aimed to integrate international professional artists from several countries, including Egypt, Germany, and the United States of America in the main roles with young opera students of Alexandria singing in secondary roles and choir.  The opera was a huge artwork presented for the first time in decades in its complete theatrical form to an audience in Alexandria.

Directed by Manuel Schmitt and designed by Bernhard Siegl, this special performance interweaves an international cast of professional soloists with young Alexandrian talents from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Choir, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Children Choir, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Nayer Nagui.

The ultimate femme fatale, Carmen, proud and charming in her red Spanish robe, attracted the men of Seville who were fascinated by the goodness surrounding her. Only one of them dared to ignore her, Don José, and the Spanish seductress began to sing Love does not follow the rules, and fire of discreet love ignited between them.

Looks of love between Carmen and Don José (Act 2) (Photo by/Sarah Gamal).

The gypsy seductress returns to the cigarette factory where she works and there is a quarrel between her and her colleagues.  Don Jose attends and arrests Carmen, who refuses to answer any questions, but the song Near the Walls of Seville plays and tempts Don José to dance in a bar. During that time, she runs away, and Don Jose is arrested.

Carmen continues the temptation and sedition after Don José is released, but she decides to ignite the fire of his jealousy and begins singing I will dance in your honor to the tunes of the Spanish harp. She then tells him about a night she spent singing and dancing with the soldiers, which angers Jose’s leader and his rival, Zuniga, who fights with José and makes him flee from the army.

In the last scene, Don José appears again, to ask forgiveness from Carmen, who throws him a ring he gave her, which prompts him to stab and kill her. Carmen dies. José kneels and sings "Ah! Carmen! ma Carmen adorée!”  All these scenes were heard by the audience with music and singing, and the musicians, performers, and singers left the task of visualizing the scenery to the audience.

Closing Scene of Opera Carmen (Act 4) (Photo by Bothina Shalaan)

Throughout the accelerating melody, its rise and fall, its calm at one time and its ignition at other times, and from the tone of the performers' voice, their calm and 'crying,' and their hand movements, the sound effects they created, and their movements on stage, the audience was able to imagine the scenic backdrop of the story.

The operatic theatrical work, which contains 27 pieces of music, broke the social restrictions that prevailed in France at the time in which it was written with the spectacle of women smoking, as well as the gypsy's abandonment of social custom. Her absolute emancipation was absolutely rejected.

This form depicted by the artwork, along with the unexpected end with the death of Carmen, contributed to the success of the work, where all these human events were accompanied by very beautiful music. Whereas the music, the dance, and the harmony of the actors combined with a high level of sensuality highlighted the unity of the scene and integration in the work.

Carmen is an opera by French composer Georges Bizet, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. It is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences.

Bizet put the essence of his experience into Carmen, so it won the admiration of many great musicians who watched it repeatedly without boredom, such as Debussy, Saint-Saens, and Tchaikovsky. They expected the opera to be famous and timeless, which was achieved, as it is shown to this day.

In full agreement, Maestro Nayer Nagui said to Majalla: “Opera is not something alien to any culture, it is the style of singing, but since everyone hears music of all kinds, so all social classes can understand it without any obstacles.”

Conductor of the Opera Carmen at the BA Maestro/Nayer Nagui (Supplied)

“This opera has famous ‘themes’ and ‘clips,’ which beautify society with all its differences, and because watching and listening to opera is to explore other civilizations and to taste a different kind of music and aesthetic of performance and high art, these are factors allowing us to enjoy the opera regardless of its story,” Maestro Nayer Nagui added.


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