The pinnacle work created by composer Georges Bizet (1838-1875) during his short life was the grand opera, "Carmen." The famous opera, unfortunately, was not realized for its brilliance until after Bizet's passing, but has been recorded and revered countless times since Bizet completed it in 1875, only three months before his untimely death.
This recording, from Warner Classics, features mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore in the title role of the free-spirited gypsy who revels in her Bohemian lifestyle, until she comes under the appreciative glance of the possessive soldier Don José (sung effectively by tenor Thomas Moser), whose lust for Carmen causes him to stray from his betrothed, Michaëla (gloriously performed by soprano Angela Gheorghiu, herself a veteran of the title role). Bizet's score contains several of the most recognizable works in opera, including the famous tango, "Habanera" (seductively presented by Larmore), the rollicking "Toreador Song" (delivered with the right amount of conceit and self-assurance by baritone Samuel Ramey), and the uproarious "March," frequently used in film and in concert.
Originally recorded in 1996, this version of "Carmen" is presented in its entirety (just over two-and-a-half hours on 3 CD's), under the able baton of conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli and supported by the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Sinopoli keeps the tempos brisk throughout the choruses, giving ample time for the soloists to be featured in this love triangle that ushered in a movement of realism in opera, with heightened passions and unfortunate circumstances. Though the packaging contains no libretto, the French libretto, as well as a German translation, is made available from Opera Guide (www.opera-guide.ch).
CD and Digital formats
Warner Classics / Teldec Classics