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The reception history of Georges Bizet's final dramatic work, Carmen, is rife with ironies. Although almost unanimously condemned by Parisian critics after its first performances in 1875 for its overt sexuality and graphic final scene, Carmen intrigued a number of sophisticated minds and ultimately reached the public in a way that perhaps no other opera has. Bizet's aim in composing Carmen had been to transform the flaccid, moralistic bourgeois genre of op?ra comique into a more sophisticated type of staged work. With a libretto by Ludovic Hal?vy and Henri Meilhac, Carmen survives in no single authoritative version despite its enormous popularity and influence. Guiraud converted the original sections of spoken dialogue into recitative for the 1875 Vienna performances. In recent years the original version has made a striking comeback, and one can argue that it is far more telling dramatically than the traditional version with the recitatives. There is also a popular orchestral suite drawn from the opera, and several violin and piano fantasies on its themes also exist. Carmen is cornerstone item in any opera collection. It is ironic that Bizet composed one of music's most evocative landscapes of Spain without ever having been there. This is the complete and well-known Prelude from Act 1.
This arrangement comes with an additional bass part for use with string orchestra.
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