Carmen: French Language and Carmen Essay

Submitted By sko10012
Words: 785
Pages: 4

February 18, 2013
Dying Divas Seminar
Carmen Review

Carmen was my first Opera at the Met and I was quite impressed to say the least. I was previously unfamiliar with Carmen prior hearing about it in class, but was I initially amazed at the fact that I able to recognize the music performed throughout the performance. The set was splendid and almost supernatural in the way it changed seamlessly and by slight of hand from one scene to another. The opening was quite atmospheric; it gave the feeling that I was being drawn into the time period. This overture was peculiar to the performance, as it seemed to reflect the mood gipsy tribe and provides great significance to the work, as it couldn’t be missed when it reappeared further in the plot. The overall exuberance of life and of movement in Carmen, which no observant listener ever misses, was the most remarkable feature of the performance. It is argued that Carmen is among the first embodiments of the modern indomitable woman; a woman free of all sexual repression; the icon of suffrage and resilience. Throughout the entire performance, this was exactly the interpretation that I as a viewer received. Carmen was a dominating and potent woman seemingly devoid of any weakness despite her status in her society. Even when facing death all she can do is laugh. Her dramatic intensity made her the star of the entire evening. The intricacy of her temperament seemed so complex that it made me query whether or not she was really as compelling as she made herself to be. After all, she did inhabit a society dominated by men and the Spanish Civil War period only emphasizes this. As this was my first opera, I am no position to critique Carmen’s singing, but I was quite impressed by how through her singing she was able to seemingly take command. Upon further research, I had discovered that it is debated whether Carmen is the story of the tragic heroine or the tragedy of the mannerly Don Jose who fell into folly. Just as he is about kill Carmen he leans over her with the knife, ready to bury it in her. He prepared to strike her viciously, yet he couldn’t bring himself to follow through. He was still the mannerly gentleman holding onto the hope of retaining her. To me, Carmen was the story of the tragic heroine whose conflicted predicament between proving resilience in her society and her struggle to prove her love for Don Jose lead to her death. An aspect of the performance that I found quite peculiar was the use of French language. As an individual with little experience of Opera, I was under the impression that the performance, like most operas, would have been performed in Italian, considering the beautiful use of Bel Canto throughout the entire performance. I recall my music teacher in Middle School explain to our class that opera was predominantly performed in Italian simply because of the fact that Italian is a beautiful and passionate language. He mentioned that Mozart, who spoke German,…