The Danse Boheme is the second piece from the 1875 Opera Carmen to appear here at the Music Library Project. The first was the highly animated Spanish dance number called The Aragonaise from Suite No 1. The composer of Carmen – Georges Bizet (pictured above) died suddenly (at 37 years of age) after the 33rd performance, unaware that the work would achieve international acclaim within the following ten years. Carmen broke many conventions and shocked and scandalized its first audiences. Carmen of course has gone onto become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon.
I’m especially fond of the Danse Boheme – Gypsy Dance because it features prominently in one of my favourite television comedy series – Curb Your Enthusiasm. Like Carmen, this show also broke many conventions by exploring a wide range of taboo subjects. George Bizet was an outstanding pianist and won many prizes including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. His final Opera Carmen was delayed because of fears that its themes of betrayal and murder would offend audiences which it eventually ended up doing.
According to wikpedia: The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen’s love to the glamorous torero Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.
Danse Boheme – Gypsy Dance (Les tringles des sistres tintaient) is from Act 2 of the Carmen Opera. It is performed at Lillas Pastia’s Inn two months after José was arrested for dereliction of duty. Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès are entertaining Zuniga and other officers. Carmen is delighted to learn of José’s release from detention.
More music will feature from the Carmen Suites where we will explore further Carmen and composer Georges Bizet.