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Searching for the True Carmen: Bärenreiter's New Edition Presents All Versions of Bizet's Famous Opera

Mar. 06, 2024

The new edition of Bizet’s Carmen from Bärenreiter-Verlag follows the approach that scholarship shouldn’t decide which version is the right one or the real one – and instead presents an edition containing all the surviving original versions of the opéra-comique.

The editor notes:

“It was after the publication of Fritz Oeser’s edition of Carmen (Bärenreiter/Alkor, 1964), that interest in the sources of the famous opéra-comique grew, both among scholars and in musical practice. This gave rise to the myth of a “real Carmen” as Bizet would have wanted, and the idea that the state in which the composer finally left the work represented the complete form of a masterpiece. A distinction was made between the purists, who were stubbornly attached to this view, and the more accommodating publishers, who created their own Carmen in a more or less happy mixture of versions, a mixture that was difficult to justify from a philological point of view. However, it would be ambitious to try to fathom Bizet’s thoughts, confronted as he was by all sorts of difficulties and the pressure of having to make alterations during the rehearsals of his work at the Opéra Comique in Paris, before the premiere took place. His early death of course meant that he could no longer express his opinion about this! The new edition of Carmen just published is limited to the versions as an opéra-comique with spoken dialogues, that is, before Ernest Guiraud’s interventions for its publication as a printed orchestral score in 1877 (addition of recitatives, cuts and modifications in the orchestration).” Read the complete article about this new edition in [t]aktehere.

The Ghent-based B'Rock Orchestra and the Choeur de Chambre de Namur, led by René Jacobs, perform Carmen, using this new edition for the first time, in concert. Their tour begins with a performance of the opera on March 12 at DE SINGEL in Antwerp followed by concerts on March 14 at the Philharmonie in Paris, March 16 at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, March 17 at the Kölner Philharmonie, March 25 at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and March 27 at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

To learn more about Georges Bizet, visit

Georges Bizet
Opéra-comique in four acts.
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Versions of 1874, 1874–1875, and 1875
Edited by Paul Prévost, with a foreword by Hervé Lacombe,
L’Opéra français
Publisher: Bärenreiter, BA08711, full score available on sale, performance material on hire