In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

HIGH NOTES: The Best Entrance Music Ever Given – The Habanera

Sep 14, 2016 1:22:09 PM
By John Conklin

Now that BLO is up and running in full gear for the upcoming Season, with rehearsals for Carmen underway, perhaps this is a good moment to launch another new idea: a more-or-less weekly blog on all things operatic (but inevitably concentrating on the opera of the moment). I will cull the fertile (and sometimes surprising) fields of YouTube, but also range over other links and pathways to the beautiful, the odd, and the humorous. Any self-respecting blog needs a title, so I've (somewhat off-handedly) chosen HIGH NOTES. Welcome aboard…Let’s sing together over the next months.

John Conklin


And so, the inaugural edition of HIGH NOTES…

The Best Entrance Music Ever Given – The Habanera


We start, of course, with Carmen and the best and sexiest entrance music ever given to any operatic character: the Habanera. And…it’s NOT BY BIZET! He appropriated the tune and set the melody to different words, thinking it to be a folk song. When it was pointed out to him that it was, in fact, a composition by Sebastián Yradier, who had died some ten years earlier, he manfully added a note to that effect to the score.


Any discussion of opera can often usefully and propitiously start with Maria Callas. She never sang the part of Carmen on stage, but her recording of the whole role is startlingly revelatory (not surprising, given the artist), and she sang arias from the opera often in recital.



Some variations of the aria:




Since it seems that everything musical eventually ends up as a skating routine (and in acknowledgement of the fact that the BLO rehearsals of Carmen are taking place in a Boston skating rink) we have:


And now, lest you think we have gone completely crazy, here is another "Habanera," also sung in concert, by the great Régine Crespin. Her rendition is the very model of unique French elegance, coupled with a witty sensuality and a ravishing relish in the beauty of language (quite different from Callas, but equally persuasive and seductive).


Topics: #CarmenBLO, #40DaysofOpera, Habenera, Carmen

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