Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

The Final Act

Donald Macleod focuses on how Bizet brought his masterpiece Carmen to the stage, as well as the composer's failing health.

The choice of libretto was his, as was the choice of singer. So what could possibly go wrong with the first night of Carmen? Donald Macleod concludes his account of the life and work of George Bizet.

A man of multiple love affairs who became devoted to his neurotic wife; a superb pianist who studiously avoided the concert stage; a man for ever associated with Spain, even though he'd never been there - George Bizet is a mass of contradictions. As well as composing what is arguably the world's best known and most popular opera - Carmen - Bizet also composed some spectacular flops. Always seeking popular as well as critical success, that was the very thing that eluded him during his lifetime. And yet, despite the caustic discouragement of Parisian reviewers, Bizet wrote songs and operas of astonishing beauty, even if the plots and libretti didn't always match the composer's dramatic sense.

In today's concluding episode, we find Bizet exploring an exotic eastern setting with his opera Djamileh and experiencing the joys of parenthood, as his wife gives birth to a son. Despite setbacks at the theatre, he enjoys a rare taste of success as the music to the melodrama L'Arlésienne starts to enjoy an independent existence away from the theatre. And finally, making the bold choice of the novella Carmen for a theme, Bizet strives to bring his final masterpiece to the stage.

Overture (Djamileh)
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Lamberto Gardelli, conductor

'Nour Eddin, roi de Lahore', from Djamileh
Huguette Tourangeau, soprano
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Richard Bonynge, conductor

L'Arlésienne Suite (ed. Hogwood)
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Christopher Hogwood, conductor

Tarantelle
Cecilia Bartoli, soprano
Myung Whun Chung, piano

Carmen (Act 4)
Marina Domashenko, soprano (Carmen)
Andrea Bocelli, tenor (Don José)
Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone (Escamillo)
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Myung Whun Chung, conductor.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 16 Jun 2017 18:30

Music Played

  • Georges Bizet

    Djamileh - Overture

    Orchestra: Münchner Rundfunkorchester. Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli.
    • ORFEO : C174-881A.
    • ORFEO.
    • 1.
  • Georges Bizet

    Djamileh - Nour-Eddin, roi de Lahore (Aria)

    Singer: Huguette Tourangeau. Orchestra: Suisse Romande Orchestra. Conductor: Richard Bonynge.
    • Decca: 4756812.
    • Decca.
    • 2.
  • Georges Bizet

    L' Arlesienne - extract

    Orchestra: Basle Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Christopher Hogwood.
    • ARTE NOVA : 82876-61103 2.
    • ARTE NOVA.
    • 2.
  • Georges Bizet

    Chant d'Amour

    Performer: Myung-Whun Chung. Singer: Cecilia Bartoli.
    • Decca: 4526672.
    • Decca.
    • 1.
  • Georges Bizet

    Carmen - Act 4 extract

    Orchestra: French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Myung-Whun Chung.
    • Decca: 1400202.
    • 2.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.