“O ma Carmen”: Bizet’s Fateful Gypsy in Portrayals from 1875 to the Present
Victoria Etnier Villamil
“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” (What is it?) mezzo-soprano Célestine Galli-Marié asked when offered the title role in the 1875 premier of Bizet’s new opera, Carmen. She was only the first in a long line of performers to ask. In the 140+ years since, each singer has crafted her own portrayal of the inscrutable Gypsy. The famous soprano Geraldine Farrar wrote: “Each one of us probably sees something that the others have not seen—or thinks she does—and that ‘something’ is her individual Carmen.” This book explores the history of operatic portrayals of Bizet’s elusive enchantress, tracing the development of vocal and dramatic interpretations from generation to generation around the globe.