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Reimagining 'Carmen'

March 3, 2011 |  3:48 pm


On this day in 1875, "Carmen" got its first performance in Paris. It was a disaster. Critics and the public panned it, and near the end of the run, the Opéra Comique had to paper the house to boost ticket sales. It wasn't until performances in Vienna later the same year that the opera took its first steps on the the road to ubiquity.

The opera has been filmed nearly 40 times already (not counting DVDs of productions), but on Saturday, "Carmen" is set to take a giant leap forward when a Royal Opera production opens as a 3D movie at theaters around the world.

In honor of "Carmen's" birthday, Colorado's Central City Opera asked, via Twitter, for readers' favorite adaptation of the opera's music.

Above is a keeper: Elmo & Denyce Graves performing in "Opera Lullaby," backed up by the Sheep Chorus.

Keep reading for a  few of the more clever reimaginings of the Habanera we found on YouTube. There are plenty more out there, so please do let us know what your nomination is.

Beeker, the Swedish Chef and Animal, catch Carmen in a slightly neurotic, endearingly desperate state of mind.

Rufus Wainwright borrows the distinctive bass line in his 2003 song "Vibrate" from his album "Want One"

Bobby McFerrin & Aziz Mustafa Zadeh dim the lights and make it one for the ladies. Bonus awkward hug or no hug moment at the end.

Pop Quiz: Only three operas have been performed more times at the Met than "Carmen." Can you name them? Advanced players can go for the Top 10. If you're stumped, we'll have the answer in the comments section below soon.


Opera film review: 'Carmen in 3D'

Give classical music a hand. Or don't?

-- Marcia Adair



Comments () | Archives (12)

Though it's an odd choice, I have to think Gounod's Faust is one of them. It was the go-to hit back in the day. Other two: La Boheme and La Traviata?

Some of the favorites we've found are the Gilligan's Island's Hamlet crossover ("Is it to be..or not to be..."), the animated film UP, the above Sesame Street with Elmo as well as the operatic orange sketch and Sam Ramey's with "L", the Muppets above and as part of Beverly Sill's episode with "Pigoletto."

La Bohème, Aida, La Traviata

I'm guessing:

La Traviata
La Boheme
Don Giovanni

In my nightmare world it would be:

Actually there aren't any other Met productions I dislike enough to list

La Bohème
La Traviata
Madama Butterfly
Cavalleria Rusticana

La Boheme


Looking good everyone. Some great guesses here. I'll post the answer in the comments on Sunday night. Until then, keep guessing!

@Central City - oooh, I'll have to check Youtube for the Up clip and the Beverly Sills Muppets one. Thanks for telling me about them!

La Traviata
La Boheme

Hmmm -- I would imagine;

La Boheme
Barber of Seville

Or something like that....

Madame butterfly
La traviata
La boheme

Thanks for playing along everyone.

The 10 most popular operas at The Met are:
(1217) La Bohème
(1115) Aida
(960) La Traviata
(958) Carmen
(907) Tosca
(830) Rigoletto
(828) Madama Butterfly
(733) Faust
(712) Pagliacci
(671) Cavalleria Rusticana

@John G - Don Giovanni is 16th with 514 perfs and Turandot is way down at 28th with 286 perfs

@Barihunk - Barber of Seville is 13th with 584 perfs


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