“O ma Carmen”

Bizet’s Fateful Gypsy in Portrayals from 1875 to the Present

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About the Book

 “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.

About the Author(s)

Victoria Etnier Villamil performed as a soprano in opera, concert and recital throughout the United States and Europe for more than two decades, and is the author of a book on American art song and one on the American classical singer. She lives in Philadelphia.

Bibliographic Details

Victoria Etnier Villamil
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 43 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6324-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2924-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

 1. “What Is It?” 9

 2. Breaking Away 21

 3. North, South, East, West 31

 4. Home Again 41

 5. Emma Calvé and the New Realism 56

 6. More Than the Singing 66

 7. Farrar, Film and Psychology 78

 8. In the Time of Dictators 87

 9. American Idyll 102

10. Sea Change 116

11. 100 and Counting 133

12. Game Change 148

Appendix A. Alphabetical Listing of Singers Mentioned in the Text 165

Appendix B. Chronology of Premieres and Significant Performances 172

Appendix C. Discography 177

Appendix D. Videography 185

Chapter Notes 188

Bibliography 201

Index 209

Book Reviews

“What a wonderful book. [Villamil] is passionate about her subject and this quality pervades every word she has written. I have loved the journey…and closed the book wishing that I could see her Carmen!”—Frederica von Stade, world-renowned and six-time Grammy nominated American mezzo-soprano.