At the level of a composer such as Mozart, Beethoven, or Verdi, Georges Bizet is a somewhat minor figure. However, from his days in Italy (1857-60) onwards, he showed the ability to write supple, lyrical melodies, and warm, colorful harmonies that were eventually to make his name in two brilliant masterpieces that are as popular as ever today: the opera Carmen (1875), and the orchestral suite from L'Arlésienne ("The Girl from Arles [in Provence, S. France]", 1872).
Bizet's works belong primarily to three genres:
Other genres in which he wrote are:
L'Arlésienne was originally a stage work: a presentation of the play L'Arlésienne by Alphonse Daudet, with "incidental music." Although the stage version is not performed nowadays, Bizet took the music and made it into an orchestral "Suite" (i.e. a loose collection of separate short pieces, taken from a stage-work such as a ballet, an opera, etc.). Called "L'Arlésienne Suite No.1," it is a perennial favorite, frequently played in the concert hall, and much recorded. There is also a Suite No.2 that was compiled after Bizet's death by his life-long friend Ernest Guiraud (who composed the recitatives for Carmen) from Bizet's original music.