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Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
Overture from the opera Carmen

The Overture from Carmen contains some of the most famous music from the opera, and it also offers some wonderful writing for solo woodwinds. The overture is comprised of three major themes that are used later in the opera; it begins with the music that is sung by the chorus at the beginning of Act IV as they excitedly prepare for the bull fight, with an interjection of the theme from the famous Toreador Song sung by Escamillo in Act II. The opening introduces the toreadors as they march across the square in Seville; Bizet’s music – with its energy and bristling rhythms – catches some of their swagger. The overture finishes with a mysterious and unsettling musical theme which is meant to represent both Carmen as well as the concept of “fate.” This theme appears many times during the opera, usually accompanying important events in the plot.

– Andrew Harper
– complied by Helen Hazard