New York City Opera Project: Carmen

Selection 1: Carmen's aria: Habañera "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" [Act I]
Carmen - NYCO 2003
Katherine Goeldner

This selection will be performed by NYCO at the following two sessions:

Monday April 7 : 12:00-12:45 (301 Philosophy Hall)

Tuesday April 8 : 12:00-12:45 (301 Philosophy Hall)

This colorful aria brings out Carmen's playfulness and exoticism to the full. One writer characterizes the opening section as: "The 'rubbing up' of Carmen's chromatically descending melody against a dotted bass ostinato forever associated with brazen sexual appeal and swinging gypsy hips."

The plucked strings in the bass set up a rhythm associated with the tango, and that rhythm persists throughout every measure of the aria. The form is: Verse – – Refrain – – Verse – – Refrain, with the chorus (admiring factory girls and soldiers) echoing Carmen's words and melodies in each subsection. The first part of each verse is in the minor key, the remainder in the major key with the same tonic.

Performance of "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"

  Verse 1   Verse 1  
  CARMEN   CARMEN  
0:00 Love's a bird that will live in freedom,
That no man ever learned to tame
And in vain men may call and call her
If she's no mind to play their game!
They'll find nothing they do will tempt her,
The one tries charm, the other's dumb!
And that other's the one I fancy,
He may not talk, but he's the one!
  L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle,
S'il lui convient de refuser!
Rien n'y fait, menace ou prière,
L'un parle bien, l'autre se tait;
Et c'est l'autre que je préfère,
Il n'a rien dit, mais il me plaît.
minor
  CHORUS   CHORUS  
0:45 Love's a bird that will live in freedom,
That no man ever learned to tame
And in vain men may call and call her
If she's no mind to play their game!
  L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle,
S'il lui convient de refuser!
major
         
  Refrain   Refrain  
  CARMEN   CARMEN  
1:02 Oh love was born to gipsy life,
A life that's free, that is as free as air;
You may not love me, yet I love you,
But if I love you, then you take care!
  L'amour est enfant de Bohême,
Il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi,
Si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime,
Mais je t'aime, prends garde toi!
major
  CHORUS   CHORUS  
1:42 Oh love was born to gipsy life,
A life that's free, that is as free as air;
You may not love me, yet I love you,
But if I love you, then you take care!
  L'amour est enfant de Bohême,
Il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi,
Si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime,
Mais je t'aime, prends garde toi!
major
  Verse 2   Verse 2  
  CARMEN   CARMEN  
2:30 But this bird that you thought you'd taken
Has flapped her wings and flown away;
When love's gone then you sit there waiting,
You give up waiting, down she'll fly!
All around you she'll fly so quickly,
She's there, she's gone, she's back in view,
Think you've caught her and she'll escape you,
Think you've escaped and she's caught you!
  L'oiseau que tu croyais surprendre
Battit de l'aile et s'envola;
L'amour est loin, tu peux l'attendre,
Tu ne l'attends plus, il est l.
Tout autour de toi, vite, vite,
Il vient, s'en va, puis il revient;
Tu crois le tenir, il t'évite,
Tu crois l'éviter, il te tient!
minor
  CHORUS   CHORUS  
3:06 The bird that you thought you'd taken
Has flapped her wings and flown away;
When love's gone then you sit there waiting,
You give up waiting, down she'll fly!
All around you she'll fly so quickly,
She's there, she's gone, she's back in view,
Think you've caught her and she'll escape you,
Think you've escaped and she's caught you!
  L'oiseau que tu croyais surprendre
Battit de l'aile et s'envola;
L'amour est loin, tu peux l'attendre,
Tu ne l'attends plus, il est l.
Tout autour de toi, vite, vite,
Il vient, s'en va, puis il revient;
Tu crois le tenir, il t'évite,
Tu crois l'éviter, il te tient!
major
         
  Refrain   Refrain  
  CARMEN   CARMEN  
3:23 Oh love was born to gipsy life,
A life that's free, that is as free as air;
You may not love me, yet I love you,
But if I love you, then you take care!
  L'amour est enfant de Bohême,
Il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi,
Si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime,
Mais je t'aime, prends garde toi!
major
  CHORUS   CHORUS  
4:09 Oh love was born to gipsy life,
A life that's free, that is as free as air;
You may not love me, yet I love you,
But if I love you, then you take care!
  L'amour est enfant de Bohême,
Il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi,
Si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime,
Mais je t'aime, prends garde toi!
major

Performers:
Carmen: Marilyn Horne
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, cond. by Leonard Bernstein (1973)
Library copy: CD2283