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While it is acknowledged that by 1879 Carmen was a global phenomenon, this chapter examines its reception in the French provinces, revealing the contributing factors which brought it back to the Opéra-Comique in 1883. The picture revealed by the work’s reception in the wake of Bizet’s untimely death, in Brussels, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseilles, Lille and Bordeaux is complex; the relationship of individual provinces with the centre, Bizet hagiography (or lack of), concerns of genre and the perennity of opéra-comique, the difficulty of the score along with its performers are all debates which contribute to a growing critical mass brought to bear upon Léon Carvalho in Paris. In addition, Galli-Marié is revealed as instrumental in the revival of the work, not only through her lobbying of the principal actors, but also through her touring activities. Thus the diverse and evolving French opinions of Bizet’s Carmen, formulated over a period of four years in parallel to the work’s international reputation, are analysed for the first time, revealing national pressures which brought Carmen ‘home’ in 1883.
Why a transnational history of Carmen? Because Carmen is intrinsically born of – and about –migration and linguistic fluidity, and because Bizet’s opera has been transcended by the myth or symbol of Carmen, taken to mean many things in multiple contexts. This chapter lays the foundations for the rest of the book by highlighting the main sources – Mérimée’s novella, the opera libretto, its first stagings and scores – as well as challenging the precepts of a transnational history of opera, and attempts to weave the individual chapters together, draw out overlapping themes, challenge expected narratives, point up contradictions. In short, whether in relation to genre, singers or binary oppositions of geography, identity, morality and progress, the chapter outlines the main debates addressed and synthesises the kaleidoscopic nature of the findings of all contributors. From Spanish gypsies to French Hispanomania in music and dance, from Parisian reception to transnationalism in opera studies, from Parisian opéra-comique to international hybrid spectacle, this chapter signals the issues that are omnipresent in the performance and reception of Carmen at home and abroad.
From the 'old world' to the 'new' and back again, this transnational history of the performance and reception of Bizet's Carmen – whose subject has become a modern myth and its heroine a symbol – provides new understanding of the opera's enduring yet ever-evolving and resituated presence and popularity. This book examines three stages of cultural transfer: the opera's establishment in the repertoire; its performance, translation, adaptation and appropriation in Europe, the Americas and Australia; its cultural 'work' in Soviet Russia, in Japan in the era of Westernisation, in southern, regionalist France and in Carmen's 'homeland', Spain. As the volume reveals the ways in which Bizet's opera swiftly travelled the globe from its Parisian premiere, readers will understand how the story, the music, the staging and the singers appealed to audiences in diverse geographical, artistic and political contexts.
This article explores a slice of the careers of two ‘rival’ coloratura singers – the Swedish soprano Christine Nilsson and the French soprano Caroline Miolan Carvalho – during the period 1867 to 1870, and considers the internationalisation of singing careers, women's choices and negotiation of their career paths, and fortunes made and lost. With both singers employed at the Paris Opéra from November 1868 onwards as Gounod's Faust went into rehearsal, the focus falls on the ‘Battle of the Marguerites’ in the Parisian press in spring 1869, which raised heated questions of dramatic and vocal interpretation and style, often linked to cultural stereotypes, as well as artistic legitimacy and stature. Through examination of previously overlooked archival financial and legal records, this article also reveals for the first time that Miolan Carvalho was indentured to the director of the Opéra Emile Perrin during this period.
This article addresses the physical presence of Jules Massenet in the media during the Third Republic in France through the lens of the caricatural press and the cartoon parodies of his operas which appeared in journals such as Le Journal amusant and Le Charivari. Although individual works were rarely outright successes in critical terms during his lifetime, Massenet's operas always stimulated debate and Massenet, as a figure head for a national art, was revered by both the state and its people. Drawing on theories of parody and readership, I argue that despite the ‘ephemeral’ nature of these musical artefacts, they acted as agents of commemoration of the composer and of memorialisation and commodification of his works for both operagoers and those who rarely entered the opera theatre.