“As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.”
– Georges Bizet, French, musician, composer, opera
Although Carmen was not a big success when first presented and performed, it went on to be astonishingly one of top Operas of all time.
Carmen’s extraordinary status transcended the opera house.
Chaplin’s Burlesque on Carmen
Geraldine Farrar in the de Mille movie
The sheer number and variety of forms in which it has appeared and constantly re-emerges is truly astounding and unprecedented for an opera. There were at least seven silent film versions, ranging from sexpots Theda Bara and Pola Negri playing up the sensual side of the character (which became acceptable under the guise of high culture) to Charlie Chaplin‘s 1916 “Burlesque on Carmen,” in which he played Darn Hosiery and used Carmen as one of many slapstick props. Most bizarre of all, a 1915 Cecil B. De Mille production featured Geraldine Farrar, an opera star known for her portrayal of Carmen, but in which her all-important voice couldn’t even be heard!
The rest of the 20th century saw such divergent adaptations as Carmen Jones, in which the story was transposed to black culture, and a flamenco fantasy created by Carlos Saura. Perhaps most outré (so far, that is) – and remarkably effective – is a 2001 Hip Hopera … with a stunning Beyoncé Knowles as a club singer who seduces and corrupts a cop, pries him away from his fiancée and then falls for a conceited rap star. Only time will tell the further variations we surely will see in this seemingly inexhaustible springboard for inspired creativity. ( source )
And for your listening enjoyment a performance of Bizet’s “Carmen, Suite No. 2”. I bet you know quite a few of the melodies – have a listen!