Carmen. Opera in Four Acts, Based on the Short Story by Prosper Mérimée


Although Carmen is today one of the world’s most popular operas, it opened at the Paris Comic Opera on March 3, 1875, to a mixed reception, much to the disappointment of its composer, Georges Bizet (1838-75). Bizet was one of the leaders of a new generation of French composers, and Carmen was the pinnacle of his career. The libretto, adapted from Prosper Mérimée’s short story by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, seemed scandalous to many who attended the opera. Célestine Galli-Marié (1840-1906), who played the role of Carmen, put on a racy performance that seduced some but outraged others in the audience. Bizet, who reportedly composed the tune to “Love is a Rebellious Bird” with the rhythm of the habanera and the image of Carmen’s hips (as described by Mérimée) in mind, vigorously defended the role and Galli-Marié’s performance.

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Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Carmen. Opéra-comique en quatre actes, tiré de la nouvelle de Prosper Mérimée

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

Autograph manuscript, 35 x 27.5 centimeters

Last updated: September 18, 2015